25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

Published:  October 2019 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them. (publisher)

My take:  Kate, a widow and mother of a young son, has the weight of the world on her shoulders and then she has to take on more when her job is threatened by a lecherous boss, her grandmother’s nursing home costs skyrocket, and her son Jack is being placed in a school that will do him no good at all. All she wants is to give Jack a happy Christmas.

Daniel is spending his first Christmas without his sister. His parents died years earlier and he took care of Zoe who had Down Syndrome and succumbed to a heart ailment. He’s a good man looking at where his life might go now that he’s on his own.

This book is about lonely people meeting and what happens when they open themselves to new connections. It’s an emotional story that tugged the heartstrings and I thought the fairytale ending seemed just right for the season.


About the author:

Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and a bit of journalism instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets. Poppy also writes as Rosie Howard and Sarah Waights.


 

A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble

A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble

Published June 25, 2019 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Review book provided by the publisher

Description: Zoe Bascombe has never said no to her family. When she blew her Juilliard audition, she caved to their wishes and went to business school. But when her mother dies and leaves instructions for Zoe to spread her ashes at a place called Wind Chime Beach, she defies her brothers and starts out for a New England town none of them has ever heard of and discovers a side of her garden club mother that her wildest dreams hadn’t imagined.

Zoe has another family.

Her first instinct is to run home. Instead she is caught in the middle of her feuding new relatives. With one family fighting among themselves and the other not speaking to her, Zoe must somehow find a way to bridge her new life with her old.

For the first time in her life, Zoe must make a stand for her family—both of them. If only she can only figure out how.

Her answer lies at Wind Chime Beach where for generations people have come to add their chimes to the ones already left among the trees. And when the wind blows and the air fills with music, their secrets, dreams, and hopes are sent into the world. There’s a message for Zoe here—if she has the courage to open her heart. (publisher)

My take:  When Zoe Bascombe’s mother dies Zoe specifically is tasked with scattering her ashes at a place she’s never heard of – without the help of her brothers. Being at loose ends professionally at the moment makes it easy for her to comply with her mother’s wishes even though her brothers are annoyed at not being included at their mother’s request. Zoe isn’t prepared for what she finds when she arrives at her destination. Once she finds her sea legs, so to speak, she’ll be on a path that could be the start of a wonderful journey or a terrible calamity. I liked this novel but it isn’t my favorite of the author’s books (my favorite: Whisper Beach). That said, I appreciated how Shelley Noble left her characters at the end and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a novel set at the beach.


About the author:

Shelley Noble is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Whisper Beach and Beach Colors. Other titles include Stargazey Point, Breakwater Bay, Forever Beach, Lighthouse Beach, and four spins off novellas. A former professional dancer and choreographer, she lives at the Jersey shore and loves to discover new beaches and indulge in her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels. Shelley is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.


Praise for Shelley Noble:

“A novel that offers a beautiful setting and a cast of engaging characters . . . A compelling look at what it means to be a family.”
Booklist on A BEACH WISH

“The Readers will appreciate the uplifting end to a complicated, heartrending story of love lost and anger relinquished at last.”
Publishers Weekly on A BEACH WISH

“The latest beach read from Noble explores the healing power of friendship, appealing to fans of women’s fiction, especially works by Nancy Thayer and Elin Hilderbrand.”
Library Journal on LIGHTHOUSE BEACH

“Shelley Noble’s Lighthouse Beach, with its blue, beach cover promising summer relaxation in a small Maine town, is secretly more than a light read. A broken-off wedding leads four friends to head to the town to sort out their various problems – infidelity, death of loved ones, lost dreams. Along with other residents of this struggling town, they sort through their issues and try – as they heal together – to build a better community than the ones they’ve left.”
CNN Travel on LIGHTHOUSE BEACH


 

Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Published:  October 2018 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Thanks for the free/gifted book, @WmMorrowBooks @LibraryThing 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Café by the Sea—whose novels are “an evocative, sweet treat” (JOJO MOYES)—comes this heartwarming holiday novel set on a charming Scottish island

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget! (publisher)

My take:  I loved catching up with Flora and her family and friends on the (imaginary) island of Mure. This is the third in a series about the lovely inhabitants of Mure. If you haven’t read the first two books you really should before dipping into this book. You’ll want to learn all about the people – get the context of their relationships. I have loved each book and the third just as much. It boils down to connections between people and how we all need them and must continue to try to do better – in every way. I really hope this isn’t the last I’ll read of the people of Mure. There are some ends that weren’t completely tied up – and I need some reassurance!


 

Brief take: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Published:  June 19 2018

William Morrow Paperbacks

ARC courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks and LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build. (publisher)

My brief take:  This was such an enjoyable contemporary romance. It has a sympathetic heroine, a yummy hero (and his wonderful extended family) and a crazy plot. If you love Jill Shalvis or if you’re a fan of laugh-out-loud romance that will also tug your heartstrings you’ll want to read Rainy Day Friends. This is the second in the Wildstone series but it can absolutely stand alone.


 

Lighthouse Beach by Shelley Noble

Lighthouse Beach by Shelley Noble

William Morrow Paperbacks (May 29, 2018)

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Noble comes a heartrending and uplifting novel about friendship, love, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for our dreams.

What was supposed to be an idyllic wedding leads to an unexpected journey of self-discovery…

When Lillo Gray pulls up to Kennebunkport’s most exclusive hotel wearing a borrowed dress and driving a borrowed VW van, she knows she’s made a big mistake. She’s not even sure why Jessica Parker invited her to her posh wedding. They haven’t seen each other since they were unhappy fourteen-year-old girls at fat camp. And now they’re from two completely different worlds. There’s no way Lillo fits in the rarefied circles Jessica travels in.

Jess isn’t sure she’s ready to go through with this wedding, but she’s been too busy making everyone else happy to think about what she wants. But when she and her two closest friends, Allie and Diana, along with Lillo, discover her fiancé with his pants down in the hotel parking lot, she’s humiliated…and slightly relieved. In a rush to escape her crumbling life, Jess, Allie, and Diana pile into Lillo’s beat-up old van and head up the coast to Lighthouse Island. Once there, she hopes to figure out the next chapter in her life.

Nursing broken hearts and broken dreams, four lost women embark on a journey to find their way back into happiness with new love, friendship, and the healing power of Lighthouse Beach. (publisher)

My take:  Lighthouse Beach is about the friendship of 4 women in their early 30s. They’re old enough to have endured some disappointments but young enough to have retained some optimism for the future.

What starts out as the wedding of one of the four ends up being an unexpected girls getaway. And what better place to spend a girls’ week than Lighthouse Beach, Maine – a place where the town’s welcome sign says “Once you visit Lighthouse Beach, life will never be the same”. New possibilities are found and suddenly the future seems a little brighter for all involved.

I liked Lighthouse Beach. Grab a copy this summer and enjoy a visit to the Maine shore.


Praise for LIGHTHOUSE BEACH:

“Noble delivers another compelling beach read, just in time to pack it in your tote beside your sunscreen and beach towel.” – RT Book Reviews on LIGHTHOUSE BEACH

“New readers and fans of Noble’s previous novels will find much to appreciate in this ensemble drama with fully realized characters and a vivid, enchanting setting. This is a novel perfect for reading on a beach, with or without a lighthouse.” – Booklist on LIGHTHOUSE BEACH


About the author:  SHELLEY NOBLE is the NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author of the women’s fiction novel BEACH COLORS, a #1 Nook bestseller, STARGAZEY POINT three novellas, Holidays at Crescent Cove, Stargazey Nights, BREAKWATER BAY and WHISPER BEACH.

As SHELLEY FREYDONT she is the author of the CELEBRATION BAY FESTIVAL MYSTERIES (Berkley Prime Crime) as well and two other mystery series, and the upcoming Gilded Age Newport Mystery series. Her mysteries have been translated into ten languages.

A former professional dancer and choreographer, she most recently worked on the films, Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. Shelley lives near the New Jersey shore where she loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels.


 

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

William Morrow Paperbacks (May 22, 2018)

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

When Flora MacKenzie traded her glum career in London for the remote Scottish island of Mure, she never dreamed that Joel—her difficult, adorable boss—would follow. Yet now, not only has Flora been reunited with her family and opened a charming café by the sea, but she and Joel are taking their first faltering steps into romance.

With Joel away on business in New York, Flora is preparing for the next stage in her life. And that would be…? Love? She’s feeling it. Security? In Joel’s arms, sure. Marriage? Not open to discussion.

In the meanwhile, Flora is finding pleasure in a magnificent sight: whales breaking waves off the beaches of Mure. But it also signals something less joyful. According to local superstition, it’s an omen—and a warning that Flora’s future could be as fleeting as the sea-spray…

A bracing season on the shore sets the stage for Jenny Colgan’s delightful novel that’s as funny, heartwarming, and unpredictable as love itself. (publisher)

My take:  With The Endless Beach Jenny Colgan continues the story of the close-knit village on the island of Mure. I loved catching up with the MacKenzie family and all connected to them. The theme that we all just need/want to be accepted, loved – regardless of what has come before – runs through the novel. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our circumstances are – it’s a universal need. Jenny Colgan gets it just right and left me hoping this is not my last visit to Mure and the lovely people who live there. I highly recommend reading The Cafe By The Sea to get a true introduction to the characters and setting. It will be worth it!