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.

Picnic in Someday Valley

Picnic in Someday Valley by Jodi Thomas

Published:  April 2021 – Kensington

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Marcie Latimer longs to run away from Someday Valley–especially since her ex-boyfriend spun a web of lies that almost led to tragedy in neighboring Honey Creek. Little wonder so many locals have turned their backs on her. But not Brand Rodgers. The quiet cowboy comes to listen every time she sings at Bandit’s Bar, offering a glimpse of safety and calm that Marcie’s rarely known.

After Texas Ranger Colby McBride saved Honey Creek’s mayor, Piper Mackenzie, from a fire, she claimed him with a kiss. That was five months ago, and Colby still isn’t sure where they’re headed. Piper loves her town–but does she love Colby? And is he even ready for what comes next?

Pecos Smith, Honey Creek’s emergency dispatcher, is grateful to have a new bride he adores and a baby on the way–even if one vital piece of the puzzle is missing. But as trouble comes stalking through the valley, lives will cross surprising paths. And Marcie, who’s always felt that a forever love was out of reach, might discover that Someday is the perfect place to find it…  (publisher)

My take:

Book two in the Honey Creek series, Picnic in Someday Valley, takes place in both Honey Creek and the next town over, Someday Valley, Texas. There are several returning characters from the previous book, something I always enjoy. That said, this book could stand alone – but I recommend you read the first book!

Marci was a duped girlfriend in the previous book. She’d like a fresh start but doesn’t expect forgiveness or understanding from people her ex hurt. For some reason a mystery cowboy keeps turning up in her life. What will it take for him to figure out she’s no good?

A widowed father of three can’t seem to get the local baker off his mind. Her hands are filled with work and raising her delinquent fifteen-year-old sister. She doesn’t have time for love!

The mayor and her Ranger are experiencing troubled waters in the early days of their long-distance relationship. When will he figure out she’s a strong, independent woman and doesn’t need him to rescue her? Or does she?

Jodi Thomas packed all this and more into her entertaining novel. I loved it all and recommend to fans of contemporary romance, small town settings, just enough drama, and characters you can cheer for.


Praise for Jodi Thomas:

“Six lost souls find true love in the sweet first romance of the Honey Creek series from Thomas…It’s the inviting setting and quirky, good-hearted characters that will draw readers in.” —  Publishers Weekly on Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café 

“Tender, heartfelt and wonderful. . . I loved every word.” –  RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author, on The Little Teashop on Main 

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart-wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Ransom Canyon 

“Highly recommended.” –Library Journal (Starred Review) on Sunrise Crossing

About the author:

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA® Award-winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Jodi lives in Amarillo, Texas, and can be found online at JodiThomas.com.


Promises to Keep (Review and US Giveaway)

Promises to Keep by Nan Rossiter

Publication date:  April 27, 2021 – Harper Paperbacks

Review book courtesy of the publisher and Nan Rossiter

Description:

Thirty-four-year-old Maeve Lindstrom loves her job at Willow Pond Senior Care. Her older sister Macey thinks Maeve is the only human being on earth who can make working in a nursing home sound like fun. Maeve enjoys being around the sundowners, as she calls them, helping them navigate their senior years—brightening a time that can be, all too often, a lonely, sad stage of life.

Thirty-three-year-old Gage Tennyson—who brings his mischievous yellow Lab, Gus, to whatever restoration job he is working on with Macey’s husband, Ben—loves Maeve with all his heart. He’s a handsome country boy and a true southern gentleman. But as he and Maeve grow closer, they both sense that they haven’t been completely forthcoming about their pasts.

When Maeve realizes Gage might be planning to propose, she knows she must finally be honest with everyone she holds dear. She can no longer live with the secret she’s been dragging around like an anchor, and she knows the only way she will be free to build a lifetime relationship with Gage is to risk everything—including his (and her family’s) love and respect. Before she finds the courage, however, her past comes careening into her life in a shocking and unexpected way.  (publisher)

My take:  With Promises to Keep Nan Rossiter continues the tale of the Lindstrom sisters that began with Promises Of the Heart. That was Macey’s story. Now it’s Maeve’s turn. Maeve is a lovely, compassionate woman who is in love with Gage, a man she can see a future with. Gage is a sensitive, artistic man and he loves Maeve. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? These two are in their mid30s and have secrets that have a hold on them. When the secrets become known they’ll find out if they can be strong enough for each other. Promises to Keep is all that and more. There are family dynamics, end of life situations, and dreams to pursue. I related to several issues in this book. If that sounds like your kind of novel I recommend you pick up a copy today. I loved it.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form


Lost, Found, and Forever

Lost, Found and Forever by Victoria Schade

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Justine Becker could not be more in love with her rescue dog, Spencer. He’s her best friend and “colleague” at her dog supply store, Tricks & Biscuits, in upstate New York. When she discovers a heartbreaking social media post trying to locate a dog that looks suspiciously like Spencer, Justine realizes that her beloved pup might actually belong to someone else.

Her worst fears are realized when she and Spencer meet up with Brooklyn-based Griffin McCabe, and he wants Spencer back. He claims he is the dog’s rightful owner, and has the paperwork to prove it. But Justine refuses to roll over and let him take Spencer without a fight.

It’s not easy juggling Spencer’s burgeoning new career as a dog actor, along with the demands of her life upstate, all while constantly trying to prove she’s a better pet parent than Griffin. Their not-so-friendly competition teeters on the edge of flat-out hate, so when romantic feelings for Griffin catch Justine off guard, she needs to determine if it’s all part of his plot to win the pup back, or if the guy who was good enough for Spencer might also be good enough for her.  (publisher)

My take:

Justine rescued Spencer, possibly the world’s most adorable dog, and he repaid her by coming to her rescue. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him including fight for him when his former owner enters the picture. Just when Justine thinks her world can’t get more dramatic Spencer falls into an acting gig that’s being filmed not far from where said former owner lives. Does this sound like a novel that could be a Hallmark movie? I would watch that movie! Lost, Found & Forever has it all:  attractive humans, adorable dog, and just enough drama to make an interesting escape of a read. I enjoyed it!


Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

Published:  March 16, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

About:

Alice Sullivan, a high-achieving architect and mom of two, is used to being in control. Until life rips the blueprints right out of her hands. 

While she’s always strived for a picture perfect life, Alice’s foundation is rocked when she discovers her daughter is failing reading at school, and worse, her son is a bully, having humiliated a classmate on stage in front of 500 of their peers. Alice feels desperate to make things right, but when she turns to her friends for support, she discovers her own social standing has eroded now that she’s one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids.

As she tries to figure out where she went wrong, her curated life unravels further. She faces setbacks with a key client, her husband travels incessantly for business, and her mother decides to unload a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years–one that shifts Alice’s entire perception of herself.

Despite her attempts to keep things under control, Alice can no longer rely on a spotless kitchen and an inventive mudroom design to make her feel better. She’s been trying to beat the competition, measuring her success and happiness by everyone else’s standards. Alice finds help, comfort, and strength from unexpected places, once she realizes that no one’s got it all together, and that maybe that’s okay. (publisher)

My take:  This is one of those novels that makes me glad I raised my kids before the dawn of social media. Not without challenges but bringing kids through the 80s, 90s and into the oughts seems a walk in the park compared to today. I fielded calls from the school principal on an almost weekly basis for one of my kids. Thank goodness I didn’t have to read about said child on numerous social platforms.

Anyway, when Alice’s seemingly wonderful life flips on her she is forced to face her reality and rethink what is truly important. Fans of mommy lit – women’s fiction will relate because we’ve all been there or know someone who has.


About the author:

Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, two sporty sons, and very bad goldendoodle.


 

The Vineyard at Painted Moon

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Published:  February 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher

Description:

MacKenzie Dienes’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as she could ever hope to get. Her marriage to Rhys, her best friend’s brother, is more friendship than true love. But passion is highly overrated, right? And she loves her job as the winemaker at Bel Apres, her in-laws’ vineyard. So what if it’s a family business and, even after decades of marriage and incredible professional success, she’s still barred from the family business meetings? It’s all enough…until one last night spent together leads to an incredibly honest—and painful—conversation. Rhys suggests that they divorce. They haven’t had a marriage in a long time and, while he wants her to keep her job at Bel Apres, he doesn’t think they should be married any longer. Shocked, MacKenzie reels at the prospect of losing the only family she’s ever really known…even though she knows deep in her heart that Rhys is right.

But when MacKenzie discovers she’s pregnant, walking away to begin a new life isn’t so easy. She never could have anticipated the changes it would bring to the relationships she cherishes most: her relationship with Barbara, her mother-in-law and partner at Bel Apres, Stephanie, her sister-in-law and best friend, and Bel Apres, the company she’s worked so hard to put on the map.

MacKenzie has always dreamed of creating a vineyard of her own, a chance to leave a legacy for her unborn child. So when the opportunity arises, she jumps at it and builds the Vineyard at Painted Moon. But following her dreams will come at a high price—one that MacKenzie isn’t so sure she’s willing to pay…

My take:  The Vineyard at Painted Moon is the story of family run winery headed by a vindictive, narcissistic matriarch. When her son Rhys and daughter-in-law Mackenzie decide to divorce a series of events cause large-scale change within the Bel Apres winery. This book had me thinking back to the tv series Falcon Crest (80s nighttime soap). There’s an over-the-top mother/villainess, characters to cheer on, and a lovely epilogue. A good starting over story, emotional and soapy.  It would be a good beach read or one to take you out of the quarantine blues. Also included are recipes as well as wine info and pairings.


About the author:

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Photo credit:  Annie Brady

Social Links:

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335912797/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vamf_tkin_p1_i6 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-susan-mallery/1136918902?ean=9781335912794 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-9781335912794/9781335912794 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335912794 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488210488 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Vineyard-Painted-Moon/Susan-Mallery/Q840696538?id=7843731390040 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-by-susan-mallery-hardcover/-/A-80128583 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Vineyard-at-Painted-Moon-Hardcover/508623296 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon/id1509949550 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Mallery_The_Vineyard_at_Painted_Moon?id=aL3eDwAAQBAJ 


 

The Love Proof

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities. (publisher)

My take:  The Love Proof is the story of Sophie and Jake. They meet during their first days at Yale and spend almost every day together until life takes them in different directions. They are gifted in different ways and have an amazing personal connection – all leading to an unanticipated future. We learn their story via flashbacks and the present (future). A bit angsty at times but it seemed to fit. Author Madeleine Henry had me feeling the emotions. If you like novels about the nature of love, unique personalities, with a dose of physics and philosophy be sure to give this one a try. 


About the author:

Madeleine Henry is the author of The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. She has appeared on NBC, WABC, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and Inspire Living. She has been featured in the New York Post, Parade, and Observer Media. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management after graduating from Yale in 2014. She lives in New York City.

Instagram: @madeleineshenry and @madeleinehenryyoga

Twitter: @madeleineshenry


Early Praise for The Love Proof:

The Love Proof is a fascinating story about how love opens us up to the remarkable possibilities of the universe. Smart, sexy, and scientific.” —Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost

 

“This brilliant novel attempts to answer the age-old question: What happens when all-consuming, passionate love comes to an end? Henry crafts a connection so real between Jake and Sophie, it left me breathless. A must-read.” —Colleen Oakley, USA Todaybestselling author of You Were There Too

 

“I could not put this book down. Madeleine Henry has masterfully crafted a touching and timeless tale about the enduring power of first love. Just like the magic between Sophie and Jake, The Love Proof will captivate you from the start and leave you hoping it never has to end.” —Amy Blumenfeld, author of The Cast


 

The Path to Sunshine Cove

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  March 30, 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

With a past like hers, Jessica Clayton feels safer in a life spent on the road. She’s made a career out of helping others downsize—because she’s learned the hard way that the less “stuff,” the better, a policy she applies equally to her relationships. But a new client is taking Jess back to Cape Sanctuary, a town she once called home…and that her little sister, Rachel, still does. The years apart haven’t made a dent in the guilt Jess still carries after a handgun took the lives of both their parents and changed everything between them.

While Jess couldn’t wait to put the miles between her and Cape Sanctuary, Rachel put down roots, content for the world—and her sister—to think she has a picture-perfect life. But with the demands of her youngest child’s disability, Rachel’s marriage has begun to fray at the seams. She needs her sister now more than ever, yet she’s learned from painful experience that Jessica doesn’t do family, and she shouldn’t count on her now.

Against her judgment, Jess finds herself becoming attached—to her sister and her family, even to her client’s interfering son, Nate—and it’s time to put everything on the line. Does she continue running from her painful past, or stay put and make room for the love and joy that come along with it? (publisher)

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne’s latest novel is a stand alone story about two sisters overcoming a horrific event that set their lives on different trajectories. When they end up in the same town Jess and Rachel are dealing with life on their own terms. Rachel is a social media influencer whose life isn’t quite as perfect as her Instagram posts would lead people to believe. Jess arrived in town to help a client declutter her large home. She didn’t expect the client’s son to make her question everything she’d done for years to protect her feelings. The Path to Sunshine Cove is a touching story of learning to rethink what’s important in life. I think fans of RaeAnne Thayne and stories about sisters will enjoy it as much as I did.


 

500 Miles From You

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

Published:  June 2020 – Harper Audio

Borrowed from my library via Libby App

Description:  

Lissa, is a nurse in a gritty, hectic London neighborhood. Always terribly competent and good at keeping it all together, she’s been suffering quietly with PTSD after helping to save the victim of a shocking crime. Her supervisor quietly arranges for Lissa to spend a few months doing a much less demanding job in the little town of Kirrinfeif in the Scottish Highlands, hoping that the change of scenery will help her heal. Lissa will be swapping places with Cormack, an Army veteran who’s Kirrinfeif’s easygoing nurse/paramedic/all-purpose medical man. Lissa’s never experienced small-town life, and Cormack’s never spent more than a day in a big city, but it seems like a swap that would do them both some good.

In London, the gentle Cormack is a fish out of the water; in Kirrinfief, the dynamic Lissa finds it hard to adjust to the quiet. But these two strangers are now in constant contact, taking over each other’s patients, endlessly emailing about anything and everything. Lissa and Cormack discover a new depth of feeling…for their profession and for each other.

But what will happen when Lissa and Cormack finally meet…?  (publisher)

My take:  Two nurses, he’s from Scotland and she’s from London, change places and jobs for three months. She’s never lived in a small town and he hasn’t spent much time in the big city. Themes of loss and PTSD figure strongly in the novel. Jenny Colgan’s characters are warm, sympathetic and believable. I wanted to keep reading about Cormac and Lissa. This is the third in a series but can stand alone.  Recommended, especially on audio.


 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.
 
Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of two young women, cousins, who find out what could be possible in their lives if they would take a chance. When their great-aunt Poppy invites them to visit Italy with her they almost immediately shut that idea down. She won’t take no for an answer though and soon they take off on a life-changing trip. I adored Aunt Poppy, hoped for the best for Emilia, and found a place in my heart for her polar-opposite cousin Lucy. This is the story of secrets born out of desperation and their far-reaching effect on so many people. I really enjoyed this novel and kept thinking it would make a great movie. I loved the Italian setting and endearing and larger-than-life characters brought to life by Lori Nelson Spielman. This is one of those books that had me shedding a few happy tears at the end. I love when that happens!


About the author:

Lori Nelson Spielman in the New York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness. She is a former speech pathologist, guidance counselor, and homebound teacher. She enjoys fitness running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her true passion. She lives in Michigan with her husband.

lorinelsonspielman.com

twitter.com/lnelsonspielman


 

Excerpt: Rescue You

 

RESCUE YOU

Author: Elysia Whisler  

ISBN: 9780778310082

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

One

Constance slammed on her brakes. Steam rose from the street as rain gurgled through the ditches. She killed the engine, stepped into the pattering droplets and scanned the shoulder of the road. Nothing there but the remains of a goose carcass. “Where are you, boy?” Constance gave a low whistle. 

It hadn’t been her imagination. The picked-over goose only made her more certain she’d seen a dog, weaving through the foggy afternoon air like a phantom. A lost dog, with his head bent against the rain as he loped along the muddy ditch. 

Constance whistled again. Silence, but for the sound of rain hitting the trees that lined the road. “Maybe I’m just tired.” She’d done a lot of massages today, which made her feel wrung out. Constance almost ducked back into the van, but halted. 

There he was: a white face with brown patches, peeking at her from behind a bush. “Hey, boy.” Constance squatted down, making herself smaller, less threatening. The dog watched, motionless. Constance drew a biscuit from her coat, briefly recalling the cashier’s amusement at the grocery store today when she’d emptied her pockets on the counter, searching for her keys. Five dog biscuits had been in the pile with her phone, a used tissue and the grocery list. 

“Dog mom, huh?” the elderly cashier had said.

 “Something like that.” More like dog aunt, to all of the rescues at Pittie Place. Her sister, Sunny, had quite the brood. 

Constance laid the biscuit near her foot and waited. A moment later, the bush rustled and the dog approached. He had short hair and big shoulders. He got only as close as he needed to, then stretched his neck out for the prize. As he gingerly took the biscuit, Constance noted a droopy abdomen and swollen nipples, like a miniature cow.

 So. He was a she. Constance inched toward her. The dog held on to the biscuit, but reared back. Constance extended her fist, slowly, so the mom could smell her. “You got puppies somewhere?” 

The dog whimpered, but crunched up the biscuit.

 “Where are your puppies?” 

The dog whimpered again. Her legs shook. Her fur was muddy, feet caked with dirt. She had blood on her muzzle— probably from the dead goose. By her size and coloring, Constance decided she was a pit bull. 

Constance rose up, patted her thigh and headed toward her van. She slid open the side door, grabbed a blanket and spread it out, but when she turned around, the dog was several yards away. Her brown-and-white head was low as she wandered beneath a streetlamp, the embodiment of despair in the drizzle that danced through the light. 

Constance followed, slipping on the leaves that clogged the drainage ditch. The dog glanced once over her shoulder, but her pace didn’t quicken. Constance decided her calm demeanor was working, keeping the dog from fleeing. And let’s be honest: the biscuit hadn’t hurt. Chances were, the dog would be happy to have more as soon as she got wherever she was going. “Let’s see where you’re headed, then. Show me if you’ve got a home.” 

Constance followed her across the road, around the curve and down the narrow lane. Frogs popped like happy corn all over the slick street, but the chill of the oncoming winter slithered through Constance’s blood. 

She followed the dog for a good quarter mile. Even before she hooked a left down the unpaved road hidden behind the trees, Constance had figured out that the mama was headed to one of the handful of empty places that sat decomposing on the hundred or so acres the Matteri family owned. Constance paused only long enough to squelch the sizzle of anger that bubbled up inside before she pressed on, determined to know if the dog was a stray or a neglected mother from Janice Matteri’s puppy mill. 

Constance took the same turn and watched as the dog neared the abandoned house up ahead. Nobody had lived there in years. It was only a matter of time before it became condemned. The dog bypassed the crumbling porch of the old colonial and went around back. Constance knew little daylight was left, and she hadn’t brought a flashlight. She broke into a trot, clutched her coat tighter around her and didn’t slow until the dog came back into view. Constance followed her, her heart thumping harder with each step. 

The dog passed the rusted chain-link fence and disappeared over a rise in the property, near an old shed so overgrown with trees it was only recognizable by a pale red door. Just as she reached the hill, Constance heard a squeak. The sort of high-pitched noise that echoes from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Another squeak came. And another. She crested the hill and saw the dog slink inside the shed door. Constance got to the shed and pushed inside. The dog had reached her destination: a battered old mattress, three shades of brown, lying a few feet inside. The mewls, now loud and hungry, came from a shredded section of the mattress.

 Constance narrowed her eyes. At first, she counted only two bobbing, brown heads, but as she drew closer there was a third. Then a fourth. The last one didn’t move nearly as much, just sort of waded on his stomach. The puppies had cocoa-colored fur and black muzzles. Eyes open. The ones that moved didn’t really walk, just stumbled into each other, like drunks. Mama dog curled around them and they all wiggled toward her abdomen. 

Constance knelt down next to the mattress and watched the suckling puppies. She decided they were about two weeks old. The air in the shed smelled of sour milk, poop and urine. She dug out another biscuit and reached, slowly, her hand in a fist to protect her fingers, her gaze on the mama for any sign she was upset, such as pinned ears, bared teeth or a raised ridge of fur down the back. The energy around the mom and her pups was calm, to the point of exhausted. Constance had certainly helped with enough of Sunny’s dogs over the years to know. She offered the biscuit and the mom took it. With her mouth busy, Constance carefully touched the smallest puppy, who shook so hard the tremble came from deep inside, beneath his skin and fur, straight from his bones. 

Constance rose slowly and did a quick search of the vicinity for more puppies, which turned up nothing but trash, vermin and an old orange crate, which she brought over to the mattress. 

Now to see if Mom was going to accept help.

 Though daylight was precious, Constance waited until the pups were done suckling before she offered a third treat. “Let’s go back to my place,” Constance said as Mom accepted the biscuit. “My sister has a rescue for critters, just like you. And I help her all the time. You’ll be safe there. Does that sound okay?”

 While Mama crunched, Constance reached for the two pups closest to her and, keeping an eye on Mom the whole time, she lifted them and settled them in the crate. Mom’s chewing quickened, so Constance acted fast, lifting the last two pups swiftly but carefully. She rose to her feet, crate in her arms. The mother dog was on her feet almost ahead of her, pointing her muzzle at the crate and whining.

 Constance knew the mom would follow her anywhere she took those pups, but she also lacked any signs of aggression, almost as though she knew that this was their only chance. Or as Pete, owner of Canine Warriors and Constance’s longtime childhood friend, would put it, “You just got something about you, Cici. Everybody trusts you. People. Dogs. The damn Devil himself.” 

Constance headed back to her van, chasing the sunset. As expected, the mother followed. Once to the vehicle, Constance opened the van and set the crate full of pups next to the blanket she’d spread out earlier. The mama dog leaped in after them. 

Constance slid the door closed, settled behind the steering wheel and let out a great sigh. Mission accomplished. She edged down the long, lonely road. The rain pattered on the windshield and the scent of dirty puppies hit her nose. She’d take them home tonight and get them settled in, see how they reacted to a new environment, then text Sunny in the morning. Constance had worked with enough dogs, and people, to know that introducing another new person this evening was bad news. Let Mama get used to Constance first, and get some good food and rest, before she was moved to Pittie Place. 

Tonight, at least, this girl and her babies belonged with Constance. 

 

Excerpted from Rescue You by Elysia Whisler Copyright © Elysia Whisler. Published by MIRA Books.


About the author:

Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawai’i and Virginia, in true military fashion. Her nomadic life has made storytelling a compulsion from a young age. 

She doubles as a mother, a massage therapist and a CrossFit trainer and is dedicated to portraying strong women, both in life and in her works. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.


Book summary:

She needs a fresh start. He’s got scars that haven’t healed. With the help of some rescue dogs, they’ll discover that everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

After a year of heartbreak and loss, the only thing keeping Constance afloat is the dog rescue she works at with her sister, Sunny. Desperate for a change, Constance impulsively joins a new gym, even though it seems impossibly hard, and despite the gym’s prickly owner.

Rhett Santos keeps his gym as a refuge for his former-military brothers and to sweat out his own issues. He’s ready to let the funny redhead join, but unprepared for the way she wiggles past his hard-won defenses.

When their dog rescue is threatened, the sisters fight to protect it. And they need all the help they can get. As Rhett and Constance slowly open up to each other, they’ll find that no one is past rescuing; what they need is the right person—or dog—to save them.

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The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Expected publication:  April 13, 2021 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one, with a home and a husband and a fierce desire to become a mother. Fern is the quirky one, the free spirit, the librarian who avoids social interaction and whom the world might just describe as truly odd. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Spine tingling, creepy, utterly compelling and unpredictable, The Good Sister is about the ties that bind sisters together…and about the madness that lurks where you least expect it. (publisher)

My take:   The Good Sister is told from the perspectives of twin sisters Fern and Rose. They were raised by their self-absorbed, single mother. It was a very unstable childhood that set the tone for their future.

As often happens in families, the siblings have different recollections of the same events and I was constantly wondering which was closer to the truth. I have to say I was on Team Fern – she was such a lovable, sympathetic character. And her boyfriend Wally (not his actual name but Fern thought he resembled Waldo when they first met – so the name stuck) was so unique and wonderful. Thank goodness he walked into her library the day they met!

I don’t want to spoil with more but I can say fans of novels about sibling conflict, manipulation and deceit will find that for sure in The Good Sister. It was a quick read only because I had to find out what happened next – didn’t want to put it down.


 

She Gets That From Me

 

She Gets That From Me by Robin Wells

Published:  September 22, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Quinn never expected that her best friend’s courageous decision to be a single mother by choice would end up transforming her own life in this poignant novel from USA Today bestselling author Robin Wells.
 
When Quinn Langston’s best friend unexpectedly passes away, Quinn embraces Brooke’s three-year-old daughter Lily and elderly grandmother Margaret as the family she’s always wanted.  She’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal, but she didn’t anticipate Lily’s biological father would be part of the plan. Margaret is old-fashioned, though, and she has no compunction about finding a way to reach Lily’s dad, a sperm donor. After all, he’s a blood relative, and she believes family should raise family.
 
 Zack Bradley doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out he has a child. Sperm donors don’t usually get to meet their…well, he’s not sure what to call Lily yet, but he’s certain he wants to get to know her. There’s just one of problem: he’s about to move to Seattle with his wife, Jessica, who’s undergone multiple infertility treatments, desperately wants a family of her own and can’t stand the idea of Zack playing daddy to another woman’s child.
 
Together, they’ll all learn that the human heart is infinitely expandable and there are many different roads to family. (publisher)

My take:  When the unthinkable happens to Quinn’s best friend she steps in to care for 3 year old Lily(who was conceived via donor from a fertility center) and her great-grandmother Margaret. Around this time Zack and his wife Jessica are going through their own infertility heartbreak. I won’t spoil how all the principals are drawn together but at one point I highlighted this passage:

‘ “Good Lord – sounds like an episode of Maury Povich just happened in here,” the aide whispers to the therapist.’  – (location 4145)

That was definitely the vibe I was getting while reading but I also think author Robin Wells wrote with heart and empathy. No matter how selfishly I believe Jessica acted Wells still let me find some sympathy for her situation.

The subject of infertility could be a trigger for some readers and that’s what this novel is about. It got a bit soapy at times but if you like to read novels about all kinds of families you’ll want to add She Gets That From Me to your list. I’m glad I had the chance to discover Robin Wells and will be interested to see what she writes next.


About the author:

Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

Author photo credit: Arden Wells


 

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant

Published:  September 2020 – Berkley Trade

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she’s dreamed of.

Until her career goes up in flames.

Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change. (publisher)

My take:  If you love to immerse yourself in foodie fiction, romantic stories and feel-good second chance tales you’ll want to read The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux.

After enduring public humiliation in New York Sophie goes to France when she gets the call that her beloved grandmother is ill. This is the woman who sparked Sophie’s love of cooking from a young age when she still lived at the family Chateau. Sophie will do anything to have more time with her grandmother as well as help at the Chateau. This is a gift because she’ll have a chance to regroup and find the confidence in the kitchen she’d lost in New York.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptive writing about the setting, food and people. This is a sweet story and  Samantha Vérant’s debut novel. I look forward to seeing what she writes next.


 

Happiness For Beginners

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Re-release:  September 1, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Happiness for Beginners begins a year after Helen Carpenter, 32, gets divorced. Helen knew it was time to pull herself together. And she knew she needed to do something wild and adventurous and completely out of character. Which is why she signed up for a wilderness survival course in Wyoming. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to start over, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really lost before you can even have a hope of being found. (publisher)

My take:  Katherine Center’s charming novel about Helen, a recently divorced young woman setting off on an adventure, grabbed me from the start. Helen signs up for a challenging three week hiking trip in the Wyoming mountains. She wants to get stronger and toughen up regarding how she handles what life throws at her. She also wants to appreciate nature’s beauty and to be happy. She ends up learning much more about herself and true happiness from fellow hikers and experiences on the trail. She also gains new perspective on the people in her family. Deceptively light in tone (what I’ve come to expect from this author) and relatable on a few levels – I enjoyed it all.

Note: This is a re-release. It claimed a spot on my 2015 Favorite Books list!


About the author:

Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including Things You Save in a Fire, How to Walk Away, and Happiness for Beginners. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, was turned into a movie starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel, and released digitally and on VOD. Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in InStyle, People, USA Today, The Atlantic, Real Simple, and others. She lives in Houston with her husband and two kids.


Praise for Happiness for Beginners:

“If you’re anything like us, you’ll read this book in one sitting.”InStyle Magazine

“A deliciously refreshing take on life.”The Houston Chronicle

“Center has written a wonderful story, a fast-paced read with sharp, perfectly written dialogue. Her newest does exactly what we want a good novel to do, introduce us to characters who engage us and take us on a journey.”Booklist

“Happiness for Beginners is my favorite Katherine Center novel yet. I folded down pages to go back to – and that’s a sign of a great book: when I see something so true or profound that I know I need to mark it. It’s wonderful. Could not put it down.”Jenny Lawson

“This wise, delicious, page-turning novel won’t let you go. Katherine Center writes about falling down, growing up, and finding love like nobody else. You can always see yourself and the people you love in her characters and their stories.”Brené Brown


 

A Little Bit Of Grace

A Little Bit Of Grace by Phoebe Fox

Published:  August 11, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Family is everything—Grace Adams McHale’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into, to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family. There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself. As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable. (publisher)

My take:  Grace married the boy next door, her best friend, and they practiced law in the same firm. A HEA if I ever read one. And then Grace’s husband told her he wasn’t happy and they divorced. There’s more to their story and when faced with the last straw Grace realized she needed a change of scenery. She flew to Florida to visit her (newly found) great-aunt Milly. I loved Milly and Grace and the way they got to know each other. Milly had a lot to teach Grace and Grace was family that Milly didn’t know she had – what a gift! This is a story about finding the courage to take a new direction. It’s about trusting yourself first and accepting (some) change as a new normal. I loved this heartfelt story and recommend to fans of women’s fiction. I  can’t wait to see what Phoebe Fox writes next.


 

The Friendship List

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Published:  August 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

My take:  Ellen and Unity have been friends since they were young girls. Ellen, a single mom of a seventeen year old son, got pregnant the night of her junior prom (the last time she went out with her son’s father). She had her son, finished high school and then college while living with her parents, and then got on with life as a single mom. Unity married her high school sweetheart. He was in the army and when he was killed she returned to their hometown. Ellen and Unity have been stuck in emotional ruts and they realize they aren’t getting any younger so they challenge each other with writing a list of things each woman wants/needs to do.  It was fun to see them start to come out of their shells as they crossed items off and courageously moved toward a new phase of life. Susan Mallery balanced the serious subjects with a light tone and humor. A reader discussion guide and a few recipes are included at the end.


About the author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

SOCIAL LINKS:

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The Switch

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Narrated by Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones

Expected publication date:  August 18, 2020 – Macmillan Audio

Audiobook courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

About: When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects. (publisher)

My take:  When Carla Cotton died (before the novel begins) she left her mother, sister, Leena, and grandmother, Eileen, in the throes of grief. They’ve tried to move forward but aren’t having much success.

This is mainly Leena and Eileen’s story. As things play out Leena and Eileen decide to switch things up and change places. Leena will spend her sabbatical at her grandmother’s house in a village and Eileen will live in Leena’s London apartment. This might be the change they need to jumpstart their lives. I really enjoyed the spots these two found themselves in – some laugh out loud scenes. I know this: I want to be like Eileen when I’m her age! I loved her willingness to try new things while, at the same time, reconsider people who’d always been in her life.

Beth O’Leary wrote about serious and relatable subjects with a light touch and yet just enough weight. I think fans of Jenny Colgan and Jojo Moyes would enjoy The Switch. I loved listening to the audiobook (alternating between 1.5x and 1.75x speed). I was thoroughly entertained by the narration of Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones. I thought their performances were spot on as they brought the characters (main and secondary) to life and made me cheer on Eileen, Leena and all the rest.


 

Dear Emmie Blue

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

Published:  July 14, 2020 – Atria/Emily Bestler Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over. (publisher)

My take:  I don’t consider myself the intended reader (demographic) for this novel but I love a good RomCom so accepted the offer to read – and I’m so glad I did. I thought the start was a bit slow but maybe that was just me getting to know several characters. The novel picked up speed as I got to know Emmie, Lucas, and his brother. By the end I really cared about these characters. A plus was that I loved most of the supporting characters and I’d truly love to know what happens with Emmie’s work friends!

Lia Louis’ novel is full of hopes and dreams and written with so much heart. I love turning the last page of a novel while smiling and knowing I’m going to miss these people.


About the author:

Lia Louis lives in the United Kingdom with her partner and three young children. Before raising a family, she worked as a freelance copywriter and proofreader. She was the 2015 winner of Elle magazine’s annual writing competition and has been a contributor for Bloomsbury’s Writers and Artist’s blog for aspiring writers. She is the author of Somewhere Close to Happy and Dear Emmie Blue.

Twitter: @LisforLia

Instagram: @lialouisauthor


Praise for DEAR EMMIE BLUE:

“Like My Best Friend’s Wedding plus an unfairly gorgeous Frenchwoman, mixtapes, and miles of inside jokes, Louis’s latest novel blends all the highs of a romantic comedy with the lows of one woman’s complicated family history. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (2017) by Gail Honeyman will adore Emmie’s journey of self-discovery. Exploring that feeling of being left behind as everyone else appears to be moving on to bigger and better things, Dear Emmie Blue will resonate long after readers turn the last page.” Booklist

 

“DEAR EMMIE BLUE has everything–it oozes charm and wit and speaks beautifully about friendship and love, and the differences between the two. The British Marian Keyes
– Laura Pearson, author of I WANTED YOU TO KNOW

 

“An absolute treasure of a book. A love story to cherish.”
– Michelle Adams, author of MY SISTER

 

“DEAR EMMIE BLUE is the new Eleanor Oliphant. Deftly crafted descriptions and characters who jump off the page and drag you into the story. I loved every moment of it.”
– Bella Osborne, author of A WALK IN WILDFLOWER PARK

 

“I loved it so much. Such a perfectly crafted story that made my heart swell. So many parts gave me a severe case of goosebumps. Emmie is fabulously funny and real, and wow – that ending was perfect. People will not be able to resist Emmie Blue.”
– Jessica Ryn, author of THE EXTRAORDINARY HOPE OF DAWN BRIGHTSIDE

 

“This book is f**king perfect, buy it now.”
– Julia Whelan, critically-acclaimed author of MY OXFORD YEAR

 

“Beautifully captures the heartache and frustrations of carrying our teenaged selves with us wherever we go, and yet we would never be without them. LOVED IT.”
– Anstey Harris, author of GOODBYE PARIS

 

“This gorgeous and clever book is a heartfelt story about love and friendship, which certainly didn’t end the way I expected. Fresh and funny writing, with a heroine (and heroes!) I adored.”
– Holly Miller, author of THE SIGHT OF YOU

 

“I will happily read every word Lia Louis ever writes, from novels to shopping lists, this is a very special book by a very special writer. DEAR EMMIE BLUE is sweet, sparkling and heartwarming, the perfect book to remind you dreams can come true.”
– Lindsey Kelk, internationally bestselling author of ONE IN A MILLION


BUY LINKS

Hardcover:

·         Amazon

·         Barnes & Noble

·         Books-a-Million

·         IndieBound

eBook:

·         Amazon’s Kindle Store

·         Barnes & Noble

·         Books-a-Million

·         Google eBookstore


 

Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

Published:  July 2020 – Atria/Emily Bestler Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.

With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity. (publisher)

My take:  I can’t do better than the publisher’s description so be sure to read it. Musical Chairs would make an enjoyable film. The characters are fairly strong, each unique yet relatable on some level. Multi-generational family dynamics are at the forefront and the Connecticut country house setting seems perfect. Each generation (almost to a person) is on the brink of a new direction – either in personal relationships, career, or residence.  First-world problems seem to rain down on this privileged family which at first made me uncomfortable. But then the humor in Poeppel’s writing started to shine through and I breezed through the novel on a rainy Sunday. There are classical music references sprinkled throughout and I wondered if all readers would appreciate them – but, hey, isn’t that what the internet is for?? At any rate, I became invested in seeing how things would play out for these people. Again, this would be a film I’d see.


About the author:

Amy Poeppel is the author of Musical Chairs, Limelight and Small Admissions, which was first performed as a reading at the Actors Studio. Amy has worked as a stage actress and teacher and now lives with her husband and three sons in New York City and Frankfurt, Germany.

 

 

 

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