Spotlight/US Giveaway: How To Love The Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

About HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR
Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like… laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”


A poem from HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR

“O Laughter”
O, Laughter, you are not forgotten.
My body is the jam jar you flew into.You thought it’d be so sweet. You didn’t
Realize it was made by crushing the most

gentle of things. O, Laughter, Grief sees
itself as a knife, carving out what needs

to be seen. See yourself as an ice skater,
the knives on your feet. Sometimes the pain

bursts out of me like a flock of starlings.
My throat releases everything but you.

Laughter, be the slyest magician. Make me
think it’s easy work: this levitation.

I’ll willingly step into the box, if you’d just
cut me in half, spin my parts around,

then make me whole again.


About Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers’ League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller List. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin with her husband Ernest Cline, author of the New York Times bestselling Ready Player One.

Praise for HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR

“Grief is one of the most impossible things to put words to…Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz does the impossible.”
Sarah Kay, author of No Matter the Wreckage

“Aptowicz is something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively thoughtful, and approachable, looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art and slam poetry can create.”
Jo Reed, NEA

“With candid couplets and tercets, lyrical repetition and a voice both rhythmic and unaffected, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz elucidates the hollows of grief, the beforelife, and the getting on with it.”
—Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces and Last Sext
“As a reader who understands the particular hole the loss of a mother leaves, and as a reader who understands how a particular relationship with geography can breed longing, How to Love the Empty Air sung to me. But it will sing to you, too. Because Aptowicz is so skilled about writing the specific with arms wide enough to welcome all. This is a book that will tattoo itself on all the places you love to look at most.”

—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us


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Spotlight on: Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades

Today it is my pleasure to shine the Bookfan spotlight on Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades.

Kensington; November 2017; $15.00; Trade Paperback

Description: (Spotlight content provided by the publicist)

She’s blossomed from wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .

What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother’s employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that “passing” as a white woman could give her everything she never had. Every golden opportunity she seized and every deception she worked kept that powerless, forgotten girl forever in the past.

Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. She’s a woman who won’t be bought off, reasoned against, or pleaded with. Her machinations are turning Nora’s privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.


Praise for Have You Met Nora?
“Emotionally intense. Nicole Blades weaves a compelling web of secrets as a desperate woman struggles to overcome her past and secure her future, no matter the price.” —Colleen Faulkner, author of What Makes a Family
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“…stunning, riveting, and positively unpredictable. This is a deft and searing commentary on identity and race. Nicole Blades has written a book that feels effortless to read and yet pulls no punches, offering a point of view that is piercing and uncompromising. You will be thinking about this book long after it’s over.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do and Forever Interrupted


About the author:  

Nicole Blades launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine, co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, MarieClaire.com, WashingtonPost.com, Health, SELF, and Buzzfeed.  Blades can be heard co-hosting her new podcast, “Hey, Sis!,” and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.  Here is her most recent piece in The New York Times: Help! It’s Wear Your Teacher’s Favorite Color Day.


Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

  • Title:  Best Day Ever
  • Author:  Kaira Rouda
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; Wunderkind PR

Description:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life. (publisher)

My take:  Paul is a confident and successful man. He has life figured out and knows he deserves all he has, and more. He’s planned a weekend away with his wife, Mia. She needs a nice getaway – she’s been sick lately with a mystery illness that countless doctors haven’t been able to figure out. He’s certain this vacation is exactly what she needs. It will all start with the best day ever. But what happens when Paul’s plan doesn’t go the way he intends? Kaira Rouda’s novel takes the reader inside the mind of Paul. It’s creepy and disturbing and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I had an idea where everything was heading – and I was right. It was a departure from my usual reads and I enjoyed it. I loved discovering the significance of the eye-catching cover as well. Yes, a creepy good afternoon of reading about someone’s best day ever.


 Check out my Spotlight post for more information about BEST DAY EVER


Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

The Lucky Ones
A Novel
by Mark Edwards
Thomas & Mercer • June 15, 2017 • Price: $15.95 Trade Paperback Original
 380 pages
ISBN: 978-1477848272
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ABOUT THE LUCKY ONES
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realizes she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorizing his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.

Photo Mark Earthy
http://www.earthyphotography.co.uk
This image is protected by Copyright

MARK EDWARDS writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.
His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date.
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.


Praise for The Lucky Ones:

“Chilling, fast-paced, and unpredictable. I couldn’t put it down!” —Robert Bryndza, author of THE GIRL IN THE ICE
“Another gripping read from Mark Edwards.” —Howard Linskey, author of NO NAME LANE
“Tight plot, engaging characters, beautifully drawn setting.…Another compulsive domestic noir from the British Linwood Barclay.” —Ed James, author of THE HOPE THAT KILLS
“Another compellingly twisty read from Mark Edwards. They just get better and better.” —Sibel Hodge, author of DUPLICITY

“A terrific, tense read with a great twist.”  —Sarah Lotz, author of THE THREE


An Excerpt from The Lucky Ones
Even though it was a secluded spot and rain seemed unlikely, a tent had been erected over the corpse. Treading carefully on the stepping plates put down to preserve any important evidence, Imogen entered the tent, with just Emma behind her.
The woman was lying on her back, arms by her side, legs together, as if she were already in her coffin. As Pete had said, her eyes gazed sightlessly at the canvas overhead.
Scene of Crime Officers moved around the victim, taking pictures.
Imogen crouched beside the body. As with the others, there was no blood, no marks on the throat, no obvious signs of violence. The woman was in her late forties or early fifties, white, with mid-length brown hair that looked like it had been recently highlighted. Average weight, about five foot seven. Lightly made up, though the mascara around her eyes had smeared. She was a good-looking woman, well-groomed and wearing casual but expensive clothes: a pair of designer jeans and a light cashmere sweater. She wore white pumps on her feet. And Pete was right: she appeared to be smiling, her lips curled upwards at each corner.
Just like the others.
She wished she could roll up the woman’s sleeve to check for what she was sure would be there, but she didn’t want to risk incurring the wrath of Karen Lamb or do anything that would jeopardise this investigation.
She got to her feet, taking another look at the body and the grass around her.
‘No drag marks,’ she said. ‘She was carried here. And no sign of a syringe of any other drugs paraphernalia. Just like the others.’
She left the tent, Emma at her heels, and turned slowly in a circle, scanning the perimeter. To the west and north, open countryside stretched as far as the eye could see. To the east, Imogen could see the town, and to the south, the streets where most of Much Wenlock’s inhabitants lived, the houses a mix of new and old. Could the killer live there, within spitting distance of this place? It seemed unlikely. The three victims had been found at spots spread out across the country. There was nothing to suggest he was leaving them in his own backyard.
‘He can’t have carried her too far, not unless he’s incredibly strong,’ Imogen said. ‘He must have parked somewhere nearby before entering the site.’
She closed her eyes and tried to picture it: the man she’d spent so many hours thinking about over the past few months, carrying this woman – like a groom carrying his bride over the threshold? Or over his shoulder? So far, they hadn’t found signs of entry at any of the three scenes. It was as if he’d swooped down from the sky and placed his victims gently on the ground before taking off again.
Her phone rang. She took the call, then turned back to Emma.
‘That was the station. A guy in Ludlow’s reported his wife missing. Five seven, brown hair with blonde highlights. He described her jewelry, too. It matches. Her name’s Fiona Redbridge.’
She stepped back through the opening of the tent, hoping Karen would get here quickly so they could at least close the poor woman’s eyes. Once more, she crouched beside the body, wishing again that she could roll up the sleeve of that blouse and check for the needle mark she was certain would be there.
Rising and leaving the tent, Imogen stopped as a movement in the middle distance caught her eye. Someone was standing in the field, just beyond the perimeter of the Priory. A man, dressed in black, too far away to make out his features. When she took a few steps towards him, he turned and began hurriedly walking away. Imogen approached one of the younger officers with orders to pursue him, but before she’d even finished speaking the man had vanished, as if he’d melted into thin air.

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Giveaway ends on August 3, 2017


You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship by The Satellite Sisters

  • You're the Best (10:27)Title:  You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship
  • Authors:  The Satellite Sisters
  • Genre:  Nonfiction
  • Pages:  160
  • Published:  October 2015 – Prospect Park Books
  • Source:  Publicist

Description:  You’re the Best is a thank-you note to our female friends, our Satellite Sisters, the women we call when the best thing in our life happens – or the worst. Incorporating voices from 15 to 60, these essays, letters, lists, and texts illustrate – with plenty of the Satellite Sisters’ trademark humor and empathy – how we rely on our friends to get us up, get us going, get us through, and, most importantly, make us laugh.

The Satellite Sisters are Julie, Liz, Sheila, Monica, and Lian Dolan, five real sisters who first won national acclaim with their radio show, initially weekly on public radio and then daily on ABC Radio. Today, they connect with a  podcast, a blog, books, personal appearances, and social media.  (back of the book)

My take:  I discovered The Satellite Sisters when they were on ABC Radio and became an instant fan. I have six sisters and could relate to these five sisters like no one else. They made me laugh out loud and sometimes tear up as they shared their stories and experiences. Now I listen to their podcasts (via Stitcher) twice each week.

You’re the Best is filled with short essays and shorter (mostly) humorous pieces about friendship that had me nodding in agreement or laughing that laugh that makes people ask “what are you reading?” I thought it a great idea to have the next generation of Satellite Sisters (Dolan nieces, daughters and daughters-in-law) add their two-cents. Themes include Life, Love, Family, Play, and Change.

I enjoyed You’re the Best and think it would make a great gift this holiday season for sisters who are more like friends and friends who are more like sisters. Recommended.


About the Satellite Sisters and the Next Generation:
The Satellite Sisters—Julie, Liz, Sheila, Monica, and Lian Dolan—are five real sisters who believe that a sense of connection is what gives meaning to our lives. The Dolan sisters created the Satellite Sisters first as a radio show and website in 2000 and then became podcast pioneers with a devoted national fan base as well as best-selling authors.  Together they have won 13 Gracie Allen Awards for excellence in women’s media, including Talk Show of the Year and have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning and had a regular column in O Magazine for several years.  You’re the Best is expanded to include The Next Generation of Satellite Sisters – their daughters, daughters-in-laws, and nieces.

Visit the Satellite Sisters: Website :: Podcast :: Twitter :: Facebook


 

Giveaway (US) and Spotlight on Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

DrMuttersMarvels Jacket Art

A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s “overly” modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the “P. T. Barnum of the surgery room.”

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Praise for Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

“In her deftly crafted narrative, the author provides an absorbing account of the charismatic surgeon’s life and career as well as a vivid look at the medical practices and prejudices of his time. Aptowicz draws nicely on Mütter’s speeches and lectures to reveal the depth of his empathetic philosophies and humanist approach.” – Kirkus Starred Review
“If you aren’t familiar with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, then you are doing a serious disservice to your sensibilities.” – Hothouse Magazine
“Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is a dizzying dervish of a poet, an astounding talent, a deft lyricist whose patented take on this dopey world is dazzling in its originality. Everything she encounters is fair game, and she jolts us into unexpected, delightful recognition.” – Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzle
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About the author:
01.winters_cristin_aptowicz_Skull copy 2
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut,Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth and Everything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” In July 2010, she was named the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, where she spent the year researching and writing a book on Thomas Dent Mütter, founder of the Philadelphia’s (in)famous Mütter Museum. It was during this residency year that she was also awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.
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DrMuttersMarvels Jacket Art
Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller

the never never sisters (June)

  • Title:  The Never Never Sisters
  • Author:  L. Alison Heller
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – NAL Trade
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Sometimes you just need to get away….  
Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.
 As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?  (publisher)

My take:  I love reading about family dynamics and marriage. I think L. Alison Heller did a great job with both and found myself relating to a few things. All of the characters are interesting and real. When I say that I mean I know people who are similar. They are believable.

The story wasn’t predictable and I enjoyed where she took her characters as they grappled with small and large issues. I wasn’t sure what impact their actions/decisions would have which, along with Heller’s engaging style, kept me reading almost nonstop.

The Never Never Sisters is a novel about love, truth, and trust between family members, spouses, and new friends. I enjoyed it and recommend you add it to your summer reading list. I’ll be adding the author’s first novel The Love Wars to my list.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 L. Alison Heller grew up in Connecticut and attended Bates College in Maine. After graduation, she wandered dreamily authorPhoto L Allison Helleraround the eastern seaboard, temping and interning and shelving books before landing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she enrolled at the University of North Carolina School of Law. In 2000, she graduated from UNC with honors and moved to New York City and toiled in several law firms, growing increasingly nostalgic for those days of dreamy wandering. Alison opened her own family law and mediation practice in 2006 to help couples divorce with their sanity intact. Alison currently lives in Brooklyn NY with her family. Alison is the author of THE LOVE WARS (Penguin NAL). Her second novel, THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS (Penguin NAL), is scheduled for June 2014.
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Visit L. Alison Heller’s website

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on twitter

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Purchase The Never Never Sisters:

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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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Sweet Salt Air: A novel by Barbara Delinsky

sweet salt air

  • Title:  Sweet Salt Air
  • Author:  Barbara Delinsky
  • Genre:  Contemporary Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2013 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Wunderkind PR

Synopsis:  Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.  (publisher)

My take:  Sweet Salt Air is the first of Barbara Delinsky’s books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I’m glad to see she has written several other novels because I want to read more! What attracted me to this book first was the setting: summer on an island off the coast of Maine. Doesn’t that sound inviting?

I also liked the idea of two friends connecting after several years of being apart. When they meet up again their story unfolds as do the secrets they’ve both been holding. Delinsky’s well-paced story kept me turning the pages as I wondered how it would all play out. At times I was annoyed with Nicole but then reminded myself of her circumstances and wondered if perhaps I might behave the same way. I identified more with Charlotte in that she was fairly straight forward in her interactions with Nicole and then Leo. Ah, Leo. One of my friends who read the book before I did proclaimed him “yummy” – and I have to agree, lol. No spoilers, though. You’ll have to read the book 🙂

The author delves into medical issues – one of the characters has MS – and the possibilities of stem cell transplantation as a cure. I found it quite interesting and appreciated all the research that went into that aspect of the novel.

Serious medical issues aside, I think Sweet Salt Grass would be the perfect vacation read. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Barbara Delinsky.

Spotlight on: The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

Jacket Art_THE WEDDING GIFT
Book Summary:

We first meet Sarah as a child just beginning to understand her captivity at the young age of six.  Sarah is the daughter of Cornelius Allen, the slave master, and his house slave, Emmeline. When Master Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: Sarah, the young slave she grew up with who also happens to be her sister.  When Clarissa’s new husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once powerful family.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, THE WEDDING GIFT is a stunning novel that demonstrates the bonds of slavery do not end with slaves.  It is historical fiction at its best and no one is better equipped to share this story than Marlen Suyapa Bodden whose knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses translates to an intimate portrait of America, then and now.

THE WEDDING GIFT will resonate with readers of The Help and The Secret Life of Bees, where complicated bonds and compelling female relationships are explored.

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Author Bio:

Dr. Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nation’s oldest and largest Author Photo_Marlen S Boddenlegal services organization. She has more than two decades’ experience representing poor people and low-wage and immigrant workers, many of whom are severely underpaid, if paid at all.

She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel.

On May 20, 2012, the University of Rhode Island conferred on Marlen an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University.

Spotlight information provided by Wunderkind PR

Spotlight on: The Partner Track by Helen Wan

Cover Art_PARTNER TRACKSynopsis:  In the eyes of her corporate law firm, Ingrid Yung is a “two-fer.” As a Chinese-American woman about to be ushered into the elite rank of partner, she’s the face of Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP’s recruiting brochures–their treasured “Golden Girl.” But behind the firm’s welcoming façade lies the scotch-sipping, cigar-smoking old-boy network that shuts out lawyers like Ingrid. To compensate, Ingrid gamely plays in the softball league, schmoozes in the corporate cafeteria, and puts in the billable hours—until a horrifically offensive performance at the law firm’s annual summer outing throws the carefully constructed image way out of equilibrium.

Scrambling to do damage control, Parsons Valentine announces a new “Diversity Initiative” and commands a reluctant Ingrid to spearhead the effort, taking her priority away from the enormous deal that was to be the final step in securing partnership. For the first time, Ingrid finds herself at odds with her colleagues—including her handsome, golden-boy boyfriend—in a clash of class, race, and sexual politics.
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About the author:
HELEN WAN is Associate General Counsel at the Time Inc. division of Time Warner Inc. Before that, she practiced Helen Wan_Credit Sigrid Estradacorporate and media law at law firms in New York. Born in California and raised near Washington, D.C., Wan is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her essays and reviews of fiction have been published in The Washington Post and elsewhere. She lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her husband and son.
Author’s  website    twitter    Facebook
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Spotlight on: Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

Sweet Salt Air will be available tomorrow, June 18. I’ll read it  later this summer but today I want to spotlight it. I think it sounds great!

sweet salt airOn Quinnipeague, hearts open under the summer stars and secrets float in the Sweet Salt Air

Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don’t know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own. Bestselling author and master storyteller Barbara Delinsky invites you come away to Quinnipeague…

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About the author:  BARBARA DELINSKY has been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. A lifelong New Barbara DelinskyEnglander, Delinsky earned a B.A. in psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in sociology at Boston College. Delinsky enjoys knitting, photography, and cats. She lives in Needham, Massachusetts.

Spotlight on: Elizabeth The First Wife by Lian Dolan

Elizabeth the 1st wife

  • Title:  Elizabeth The First Wife
  • Author:  Lian Dolan
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  May 2013 – Prospect Park Books

About Elizabeth the First Wife:  Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare. Until now, she’d been content living in the shadow of her high-profile and highly accomplished family. Then her college boyfriend and one-time husband of seventeen months, A-list action star FX Fahey, shows up with a job offer that she can’t resist, and Elizabeth’s life suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting. She’s off to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the summer to make sure FX doesn’t humiliate himself in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s house sitter back in Pasadena is her Congressman brother-in-law’s dreamy chief of staff, whose calls regarding how to work the washing machine and stovetop slowly cross the line into much more personal territory.

About the author:  Lian Dolan is a writer, producer, talk show host, podcast pioneer and social media consultant. She writes Author Photo_Lian Dolanthe blog and produces the weekly podcast “The Chaos Chronicles,” a humorous look at modern motherhood. She writes for Oprah.com as a parenting expert. A decade ago, Lian created Satellite Sisters, an award-winning talk show, blog and website, with her four real sisters. Her writing has appeared in many national magazines, including regular columns in O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother and essays in such anthologies as Chicken Soup for the Sister’s Soul. TV appearances have included The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She is a popular speaker for groups and corporations, always using humor as hook.  Her previous books include Helen of Pasadena and The Satellite Sisters’ Uncommon Senses.

Spotlight on: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

and then I found youTwenty-two years ago, New York Times bestselling author, Patti Callahan Henry’s sister placed a baby girl for adoption. Then in April 2010, a Facebook request put an end to all the waiting and wondering. Patti’s sister’s daughter had found her.

Henry’s latest novel, AND THEN I FOUND YOU, coming this April 2013, is a unique story inspired by Henry’s personal family history with adoption.  The novel, much like the true story, is a compelling narrative of love lost, love found, and a miraculous reunion that changed everyone’s lives forever.

Told from the points of view of birth mother, Kate Vaughn, and her thirteen year-old daughter Emily, AND THEN I FOUND YOU (St. Martin’s Press; Hardcover; April 9, 2013; 272 pp.) spans over twenty years and follows the characters as they move through their lives in South Carolina, Arizona, Alabama and New York.  Now thirty-four years old, Kate seems finally ready to begin her life with someone else, but memories keep holding her back.  In her wish to conquer her painful past, Kate decides to visit Jack, the father of the baby she placed for adoption many years before.  Their reunion and an unexpected Facebook request starts a chain reaction that will change not only Kate’s life, but that of her loved ones too. AND THEN I FOUND YOU is ultimately a story about brave choices, our yearning for certainty and the courage it takes to find our place in the world.

About PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times Bestselling novelist. She has published nine novels (Losing the Moon, Where the Patti Callahan HenryRiver Runs, When Light Breaks, Between the Tides, The Art of Keeping Secrets, and Driftwood Summer, The Perfect Love Song, Coming up for Air and the upcoming And Then I Found You –April 2013, St. Martins Press). Patti has been hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction, appearing in numerous magazines (Good Housekeeping; SKIRT; The South; Southern Living, etc..). She has been short-listed for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. She has been nominated four different times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Fiction Novel of the Year. Her work is published in five languages and all novels are on Brilliance Audio.  Two of her novels were OKRA picks and Coming up For Air was an Indie Next choice. Patti is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, library events and book festivals, discussing the importance of storytelling. Her next novel, AND THEN I FOUND YOU, will be released on April, 9th, 2013 by St. Martins Press. Patti Callahan Henry is a full time writer, wife and mother of three living in Mountain Brook, AL.

Spotlight: Wildflower Wishes Book App

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry’s new book app WILDFLOWER WISHES is available for downloads now. It is the first book app EVER to be created through the inspiration of one scene from a novel, rather than encompassing the entire novel itself or focusing on the author Inspired by a gorgeous garden scene in Callahan Henry’s latest COMING UP FOR AIR (paperback; May 22, 2012; St. Martin’s Griffin) the Wildflower Wishes App is a greeting app created by a dream design team at Chronicle LLC.  The free app comes with five wildflower icons that hold a special meaning (I’m sorry; I love you; Good luck.)  Additional wildflowers can be purchased for $0.99 – and all can be sent to email, other WW friends or Facebook along with a heartfelt personal message – with just the click of a finger!  It is a gentle and simple gesture that can be shared to celebrate graduation, birthdays, anniversaries and more. The paperback edition of COMING UP FOR AIR will feature the QR code for the Wildflower Wishes App on the cover!  How cool is that?

Flowers that will be initially available with others added for special occasions:

Infinite Love – Bellflower

I Am Grateful – Bluebells

Sending Encouragement — Black Eyed Susan

Thinking of You – Zinnia

A Mother’s Love – Impatiens

Pure Loyal Love — Daisy

Bond of Love — Honeysuckle

Purple Hyacinth — I am sorry; Please forgive me

Don’t forget me — Forget me not

I will never forget you – Everlasting

Sending Protection — White Heather

Sending Cheer — Crocus

Sending Courage and Daring — Edelweiss

Sending Good Luck — Clover

Sending Perserverance — Chicory

Farewell — sweet pea

Secret Love — Acacia

Love at First Sight – Gloxinia

♥  ♥  ♥

This is a Forget-Me-Not.  You hit SEND, the flower will post wherever you like with the following “Don’t Forget Me” message, and then you can attach a personal note.

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I’m intrigued and plan to check it out!

You can read my review of Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry here.

Spotlight on THE REEDUCATION OF CHERRY TRUONG by Aimee Phan

THE REEDUCATION OF CHERRY TRUONG explores the intersection of history and human hearts. With tenderness and wisdom, this intricately woven tale presents a world both mysterious and familiar to readers. Aimee Phan is a keen observer and a beautiful writer.”–Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants

“A touching relational and multigenerational family story … By not shying away from issues such as infidelity, gambling addiction, and racism in describing the various hardships experienced by her characters, Phan makes this a strong and realistic work … Phan’s intricate storytelling recalls Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club in her ability to bind the family histories together but without the mystical spirituality that marks Tan’s writing. Readers familiar with the work of Bich Minh Nguyen (Short Girls) should also enjoy this freshly presented story of the Vietnamese American experience.”–Library Journal

“Touching on the events of the Vietnam War, cultural assimilation, reconciliation, forgiveness, and redemption, Phan creates an epic tale.  Through Cherry’s eyes, the complex country of Vietnam is lovingly explored in immense, realistic detail.  Readers of Maxine Hong Kingston and Gish Jen will enjoy Phan’s sensitive, lush prose and recognize similar questions of identity.”–Booklist

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Readers were first introduced to Aimee Phan’s “strong, eloquent tales” in her collection of short stories, We Should Never Meet, which was a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book in 2005.  She has returned with a debut novel about the Vietnamese American experience in THE REEDUCATION OF CHERRY TRUONG (St. Martin’s Press; March 13, 2012; $25.99).  Praised for her graceful and spare writing and compared to Amy Tan, Phan explores the lives of two fierce and unforgettable families, the Truongs and the Vos as they assimilate themselves in their new homelands following the fall of Saigon.

Cherry Truong travels from California to Vietnam determined to bring back her exiled brother, only to discover he is quite happy in his new life and that the unspoken rift between the two may never completely heal.  Spanning thirty years and across three continents, Cherry begins to unravel the family secrets that not only have damaged her relationship with her brother but have also deposited one side of her family in the U.S. and the other in Paris.

Phan’s depiction of this multigenerational, vibrant family keenly pinpoints their real life experiences of survival and immigration, marriage and infidelity, loyalty and betrayal, and successes and failuresall wrapped up in the quest for the American dream.  As each member of the family is revealed and more secrets uncovered, Cherry is forced to face her own place in their long family history and come to terms with her discoveries.

Aimee Phan received her MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she won a Maytag Fellowship and teaches in the MFA Writing Program and Writing and Literature Program at California College of the Arts.  Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesUSA Today, and The Oregonian among others.

Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry

Title:  Coming Up For Air

Author:  Patti Callahan Henry

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  August 2011, St. Martin’s Press

About:  (from the Goodreads synopsis) Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

My take:  I enjoyed Ellie’s journey of discovery about her mother and herself. While searching for answers about her mother Ellie faces facts about her own life and what it could be.

The setting is lush and, for the most part, the characters are endearing. Characters and plot aside, I think my favorite part of the novel was learning about a jubilee – that time when conditions are right and sea life come up for air. It served as a metaphor for Ellie’s life and her journey.

This is a book I think many women, especially women who’ve married and raised a family, will understand. I’m not saying it’s every woman’s story but there are emotions and aspects that I believe many of us can relate to. I’ve found that to be true  with most of Patti Callahan Henry’s novels and that’s why I’m a fan.

Source:  Wunderkind PR