The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis

By Wendy Francis

May 1, 2018 * Touchstone * Trade Paperback Original * $16.00 * 978-1- 5011-8891- 6

Review galley from Touchstone and NetGalley

Description:  After not seeing her friends for a year, Abby decides to invite Caroline, Lee, and their families aboard the Bermuda Breeze cruise ship. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to a week of lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing together. But soon enough, they realize their adult problems won’t just disappear at the beach or during cocktail hour.

Hard-working Caroline anticipates several crucial days with her boyfriend, Javier, who she may leave if he doesn’t propose on this trip. Single mom Lee desperately wants to win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has returned home a much more difficult person who is harboring a secret. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will renew her vows with her husband, Sam. But the couple is hiding a major problem from everyone else, including their twin sons, Chris and Ryan.

THE SUMMER SAIL is a vacation they won’t soon forget, but not for the reasons they expect. (publisher)

My take:  In her new novel Wendy Francis tells the story of three “forever friends”. They bonded twenty years earlier when they met in college. Now, as one is set to renew her marriage vows, they are at much different places in life. One is a successful magazine writer, one is a pre-school teacher with a empty nest at home, and one has just been given life-changing news. They’ll find out if they can still share their secrets, disappointments and joy on an eight-day cruise to Bermuda. It’s a tale of friendship, loyalty and life. Told in a breezy, enjoyable style I found it a very fast read that had me reminiscing about my own forever friends. I’d love to cruise to Bermuda with them and was glad to be along for the trip with Abby, Lee and Caroline.


About the author:

Wendy Francis is the author of the novels The Summer Sail, The Summer of Good Intentions, and Three Good Things. A former book editor, she has written for Good Housekeeping, The Washington Post, The Improper Bostonian, and Cognoscenti. She lives outside Boston with her husband and son.

 

Photo credit:  Claudia Starkey


Praise for THE SUMMER SAIL:

“Every reader longs for the kind of female friendships Francis has created in The Summer Sail… Hope and heart fill these fast-turning pages.” —Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House

 

“What could be more fun than a summer cruise with old friends, along with all their hopes, fears, and extra pounds, not to mention husbands, children, and the one who can’t commit—yet.  A thoroughly entertaining summer read!”

—Shelley Noble, author of The Beach at Painter’s Cove


 

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Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

  • Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)Title:  Mata Hari’s Last Dance: A Novel
  • Author:  Michelle Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  July 2016 – Touchstone
  • Source:  Publisher

About:  From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From Indian temples and Parisian theatres to German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.  (publisher)

My take:  When I hear the name Mata Hari an image of an exotic dancer from the early twentieth century comes to mind. Other than that I really didn’t know much about her. I used Google to see what she really looked like and was surprised by how many photographs were taken of her. In Michelle Moran’s hands she becomes a real person who reinvented herself when she was a young woman.

Margaretha Zelle MacLeod survived some devastating disappointments early in life but had the good fortune to meet people later who helped her create her public persona of Mata Hari. Her rags to riches story is quite amazing. Moran’s story fleshed out the years Mata Hari spent in European cities, World War I, and her ultimate demise (an emotional scene, for sure).

I think fans of Michelle Moran and historical fiction will enjoy Mata Hari’s Last Dance. It’s an incredible story and I’m glad I had the chance to learn about this fascinating woman. I appreciated the author’s note at the end that gave clarity to some of the details.

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

  • Rebel Queen (Mar3)Title:  Rebel Queen: A Novel
  • Author:  Michelle Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2015 – Touchstone
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge.

Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves. (from the publisher’s synopsis)

My take:  From the first page I was completely captivated by Michelle Moran’s story. Rani Lakshmi is a heroine with honor, compassion, morals and backbone. She wants to lead her people and keep them safe as well. Rebel Queen is told from the perspective of Sita, one of the rani’s Royal Guard – the Durga Dal – comprised of women responsible for protecting the rani. Sita’s story was so interesting and fleshed out or enhanced the factual story of the rani.

Rebel Queen is the third Moran book I’ve read and, as usual, I learned a lot. I remember in high  school history learning a bit about Great Britain and it’s quest to take India. It saddened me to see the rani and her people lose their country. The British underestimated the determination of the rani and the people of Jhansi who refused to give up without a fight. The immediate results were heartbreaking and horrifying. That said, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s a real page-turner.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction I think you’ll enjoy this book. There’s a helpful glossary as well as an author’s note concerning the factual and fictional aspects of Rebel Queen. I can’t wait to see who Michelle Moran writes about next!

Highly recommended.

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

**NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY

The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Touchstone  March 11, 2014  Trade Paperback  9781451617535

Cover Art_Girls of Atomic City TP b&w copy

THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY was hailed by top media outlets as “fascinating” and “a phenomenal story” when it was first published earlier this year.  It hit The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times Best Seller lists, made Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of 2013 and is currently nominated for the Goodreads Choice, Best Book of 2013 in History and Biography.

Author and journalist Denise Kiernan also received high praise for her “cinematic vividness” and “marvelous” reporting.  She appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, PBS News Hour, MSNBC Morning Joe, and National Public Radio.

AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR IIOak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the South, were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it, women who are now in their eighties and nineties, The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.

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About Denise Kiernan

Denise Kiernan has been working as a writer for nearly 20 years. She has been published in The New York Times, credit- Treadshots.comWall Street Journal, Village Voice, Ms. Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Discover and many more publications. She has also worked in television, serving as head writer for ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”  during its Emmy award-winning first season and producing for places such as ESPN and MSNBC. She has authored several popular history titles including  Signing Their Lives Away, Signing Their Rights Away and Stuff Every American Should Know. Her most recent book, The Girls of Atomic City, is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NPR Bestseller.  As an author, Denise has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, PRI’s The Takeaway, PBS NewsHour, and in numerous newspapers and magazines, and she was recently named to the board of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. (photo: treadshots.com)

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Reviews:

“A phenomenal story.”  –  Jon Stewart, The Daily show

” Fascinating … Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city, gleaned from seven years of interviews and research. …Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.”  –  Washington Post

“Kiernan … brings a unique and personal perspective to this key part of American history… Instead of the words of top scientists and government officials, Kiernan recounts the experiences of factory workers, secretaries, and low-level chemists… She combines their stories with detailed reporting that provides a clear and compelling picture of this fascinating time.”  –  Boston Globe

“In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan tells the fascinating story about ordinary women who did the extraordinary… The girls of Atomic City helped to change history;  it’s high time their story was told.”  –  USAToday.com

“This intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history will appeal to a broad audience.”  –  Publishers Weekly

The Girls of Atomic City details a story that seems impossible yet was true. Author Denise Kiernan brings a novelist’s voice to her thoroughly researched look at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”  –  Book Page

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