Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (Mailbox Monday)

From Kensington and NetGalley

From St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley

Last week on Bookfan:

Review: The Bookshop by the Bay

Reading plan for this week:

I doubt there will be any reading this week. We host the family Thanksgiving dinner so I’ll be getting ready for that. Have a great week, all!


 

The Bookshop by the Bay

The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley

Expected publication date:  June 6, 2023 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jess loves her work as a high-profile lawyer in the respectable and austere city of Charleston. But when she finds her husband, Parker, has been cheating on her with his assistant, she retreats, with her thirty year-old daughter Caitlin for support, to her childhood home on Cape Cod, in Chatham. Caitlin has always been bright but directionless, looking for her passion but keeps coming up blank. And Jess needs to regroup with the help of good food and wine, the company of her best friend, Allison, and come up with a plan for the future.

Allison’s career has hit a low. After twenty years as an editor for the Chatham magazine, circulation is dwindling and though her boss and long-time friend, Jim, does everything to keep her, she has no choice but to take a step back. With a career on hiatus and her main relationship being with Chris, her ex-husband who is still a good friend, Allison is at a pivotal point in life. Her daughter Julia opened her own artisanal jewelry shop a year prior, and she has the kind of day-to-day fulfillment Allison yearns for.

When Allison stops into her beloved local bookstore one day and learns that the owner wants to sell, a long-held dream turns into a reality, thanks to Jess. Allison and Jess set a plan in motion and what was once a place that held warm childhood memories is now theirs to run. As the two friends, along with the help of their daughters, reopen the doors of the cherished bookstore and adjacent coffee shop to the community, they also open themselves up to the possibility of romance, the bonds of mothers and daughters, and the magic of second chances. (publisher)

My take: 

I’m not going to rehash the publisher’s synopsis so I hope you’ll read it (above). The Bookshop by the Bay is my kind of beach read. It’s women’s fiction and involves longtime friends and their daughters – all going through personal dramas.

Jess has lived in Charleston for most of her adult life. Her daughter Caitlin is grown and at loose ends so the timing couldn’t be better for the two of them to visit Jess’s mother on Cape Cod for the summer. Having found out her husband was unfaithful and clearly heading in a different direction from Jess the time away from Charleston will give her space and time to think and make some decisions.

Jess’s best friend from childhood is Allison. She has always dreamed of owning a bookstore and when the opportunity arises she can only hope to make that happen. When Jess agrees to being a business partner suddenly the future looks brighter in many ways. Allison’s daughter is a local jewelry designer whose business is taking off. She wishes her love life looked as bright.

If you’ve read enough romantic women’s fiction you’ll predict the ending and probably be right. I enjoyed it all and look forward to reading more by Pamela Kelley.


About the author:

Pamela M. Kelley is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of women’s fiction, family sagas, and suspense. Readers often describe her books as feel-good reads with people you’d want as friends.

She lives in a historic seaside town near Cape Cod and just south of Boston. She has always been an avid reader of women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, thrillers and cook books. There’s also a good chance you might get hungry when you read her books as she is a foodie, and occasionally shares a recipe or two. (from Goodreads)


 

The Color Storm

The Color Storm by Damian Dibben

Published: September 2022 – Hanover Square Press

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Artists flock here, not just for wealth and fame, but for revolutionary color. Yet artist Giorgione “Zorzo” Barbarelli’s career hangs in the balance. Competition is fierce, and his debts are piling up. When Zorzo hears a rumor of a mysterious new pigment, brought to Venice by the richest man in Europe, he sets out to acquire the color and secure his name in history.

Winning a commission to paint a portrait of the man’s wife, Sybille, Zorzo thinks he has found a way into the merchant’s favor. Instead he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that stretches across Europe and a marriage coming apart inside one of the floating city’s most illustrious palazzi.

As the water levels rise and the plague creeps ever closer, an increasingly desperate Zorzo isn’t sure whom he can trust. Will Sybille prove to be the key to Zorzo’s success or the reason for his downfall(publisher)

My take:

I’m a fan of historical fiction but especially books based on the life of artists. I love to do computer searches for their works of art which adds a layer of enjoyment to the story. I learned so much about artist Giorgione Barbarelli, one of the founders of the Venetian school of the Renaissance era.

This is a story of intrigue, survival, and the quest for color. The scene was set in the first half of the novel which slowed the pace for me but when the drama picked up I felt rewarded for hanging in there. There were times I wished for more developed characters because a few of the primary ones felt a bit one dimensional. I don’t often wish for more pages but I think this is a time when they could have been put to good use.

So that’s a qualified recommendation. Art fans and HF fans might want to add it to their reading list. I’m glad I had the chance to read The Color Storm and would love to see Giorgione’s paintings in person one day.


About the author:

Damian Dibben is the creator of the internationally acclaimed children’s book series the History Keepers, translated into 26 languages in over 40 countries. Previously, he worked as a screenwriter, and actor, on projects as diverse as The Phantom of the Opera and Puss in Boots and Young Indiana Jones. He lives, facing St Paul’s Cathedral, on London’s Southbank with his partner Ali and dog Dudley.


Bleeding Heart Yard

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

Expected publication:  November 15, 2022 – Mariner Books

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Is it possible to forget that you’ve committed a murder?

When Cassie Fitzgerald was at school in the late 90s, she and her friends killed a fellow student. Almost twenty years later, Cassie is a happily married mother who loves her job—as a police officer. She closely guards the secret she has all but erased from her memory.

One day her husband finally persuades her to go to a school reunion. Cassie catches up with her high-achieving old friends from the Manor Park School—among them two politicians, a rock star, and a famous actress. But then, shockingly, one of them, Garfield Rice, is found dead in the school bathroom, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent—and controversial—MP and the investigation is high profile, it’s headed by Cassie’s new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur, freshly promoted and newly arrived in London. The trouble is, Cassie can’t shake the feeling that one of them has killed again.

Is Cassie right, or was Garfield murdered by one of his political cronies? It’s in Cassie’s interest to skew the investigation so that it looks like it has nothing to do with Manor Park and she seems to be succeeding.

Until someone else from the reunion is found dead in Bleeding Heart Yard… (publisher)

My take:

I’m jumping into the Harbinder Kaur series in book three (it was pitched as a stand alone). Even though I don’t know a lot about her experiences in the first two books I felt that Elly Griffiths revealed enough important details. I really like DI Kaur and her team. She’s got her first big case at her new job in London and hopes to show everyone she deserves to be there.

I liked the class reunion at a posh school setting and all the trappings you’d expect. There were some surprises along the way but midway through the pace slowed for me and I grew a bit bored. What kept me reading, though, was DI Kaur and her team – and of course wanting to find out whodunnit. Will I read more in the series? If there’s another book I’ll definitely make time to read it.


About the author:

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series, as well as the standalone novels THE STRANGER DIARIES, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS. She is the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in Brighton, England.


 

The Direction of the Wind

The Direction of the Wind by Mansi Shah

Expected publication:  Feb. 1, 2023 – Lake Union Publishing

Review copy from Blankenship PR, Lake Union and NetGalley

Description:

Sophie Shah was six when she learned her mother, Nita, had died. For twenty-two years, she shouldered the burden of that loss. But when her father passes away, Sophie discovers a cache of hidden letters revealing a shattering truth: her mother didn’t die. She left.

Nita Shah had everything most women dreamed of in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India—a loving husband, a doting daughter, financial security—but in her heart, she felt like she was living a lie. Fueled by her creative ambitions, Nita moved to Paris, the artists’ capital of the world—even though it meant leaving her family behind. But once in Paris, Nita’s decision and its consequences would haunt her in ways she never expected.

Now that Sophie knows the truth, she’s determined to find the mother who abandoned her. Sophie jets off to Paris, even though the impulsive trip may risk her impending arranged marriage. In the City of Light, she chases lead after lead that help her piece together a startling portrait of her mother. Though Sophie goes to Paris to find Nita, she may just also discover parts of herself she never knew. (publisher)

My take:

The Direction of the Wind is an emotional journey of one young woman’s search for the truth. Having lived her early life believing one thing and then learning something completely different upon the death of her father has sent her life in a tailspin. She is reminded of the proverb her father often quoted:

The direction of the wind cannot be changed, but we can change the direction of our sails.

With themes of depression, anxiety, substance abuse (to list a few) author Mansi Shah kept me turning the pages hopeful for a positive outcome for Sophie. There were a few places where I thought things played out a bit conveniently and times where I wished for more character development. Overall, not an easy read in places but a good story.


About the author:

Mansi Shah lives in Los Angeles. She was born in Toronto, Canada; was raised in the midwestern region of the United States; and studied at universities in Australia, England, and America. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling and exploring different cultures near and far, experimenting on a new culinary creation, or working on her tennis game. She is also the author of The Taste of Ginger. For more information, visit her online at www.mansikshah.com.


Early praise for The Direction of the Wind

THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND will grab your heart from the first page. Beautifully written, this haunting story about a young woman searching for her mother is heartbreaking and uplifting as it immerses you in both Ahmedabad, India, and Paris, France. Mansi Shah is now a must-read author for me.”

―Lyn Liao Butler, author of Red Thread of Fate

 

A poignant and heart-wrenching story that explores the footsteps of the past as well as the ties of family and the bravery needed to break free. Mansi Shah’s latest novel takes the reader on a journey of love, risk, betrayal, and forgiveness.”

―Gian Sardar, author of Take What You Can Carry

 

The Direction of the Wind is an unexpected and compelling exploration of the way culture shapes us. This is a gritty, lyrical,heartbreaking, and deeply moving novel. I found myself reading far into the night, unable to leave behind the quest of these two women, a generation apart. Mansi Shah writes with a fresh voice and clear eyes.”

―Barbara O’Neal, USA Today bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids

 

“Mansi Shah’s second novel, The Direction of the Wind, is an absorbing exploration of the price of passion and blazing one’s own path despite the weight of convention, family obligations, even motherhood. Using interlocking mother-daughter perspectives spanning decades and continents, Shah gives an unflinching portrayal of lost innocence, addiction, and misplaced romance. Despite heavy losses, thisis a hopeful novel set in the city of light, where love prevails in unlikely frienfdships and the unbreakable bond of chosen family. Perfect reading

for travelers and journeys of the heart.”

―Yoojin Grace Wuertz, author of Everything Belongs to Us


Spotlight: That Summer in Berlin

Happy Release Day to Lecia Cornwall!

That Summer in Berlin by Lecia Cornwall

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; October 11, 2022

Description:

In the summer of 1936, while the Nazis make secret plans for World War II, a courageous and daring young woman struggles to expose the lies behind the dazzling spectacle of the Berlin Olympics. 

German power is rising again, threatening a war that will be even worse than the last one. The English aristocracy turns to an age-old institution to stave off war and strengthen political bonds—marriage. Debutantes flock to Germany, including Viviane Alden. On holiday with her sister during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Viviane’s true purpose is more clandestine. While many in England want to appease Hitler, others seek to prove Germany is rearming. But they need evidence, photographs to tell the tale, and Viviane is a genius with her trusty Leica. And who would suspect a pretty, young tourist taking holiday snaps of being a spy?
 
Viviane expects to find hatred and injustice, but during the Olympics, with the world watching, Germany is on its best behavior, graciously welcoming tourists to a festival of peace and goodwill. But first impressions can be deceiving, and it’s up to Viviane and the journalist she’s paired with—a daring man with a guarded heart—to reveal the truth.
 
But others have their own reasons for befriending Viviane, and her adventure takes a darker turn. Suddenly Viviane finds herself caught in a web of far more deadly games—and closer than she ever imagined to the brink of war. (publisher)

About the author:

Lecia Cornwall writes historical romance and historical fiction. She lives and writes in Alberta, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with five cats, two adult children, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next book.


 

Once Upon a December

Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert

Published: October 4, 2022 – Berkley

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty—it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She’s ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery.
 
For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley.
 
After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa. (publisher)

My take:

Amy Reichert’s Once Upon a December is a sweet romance filled with hot cocoa (sometimes spiked), yummy kringle and an intriguing hero and heroine. It is a magical story and especially enticing to me because it’s set in my area with mentions of familiar landmarks which made it even more fun to read. Astra and Jack live their lives separately each year until their paths intersect at the annual Christmas Market. They seem to enjoy their lives but also experience a certain loneliness that disappears at this special time of year when they meet up again. They definitely have a special attraction to each other but can they overcome the obstacles that could prevent a HEA? You’ll have to read to find out! Now is when I tell you that there were moments when I was pulled out of the story by having to figure out logistics. That’s could be just my issue but I felt I needed to give a heads up. It was a bit distracting. Ultimately I found Once Upon a December to be a frothy, magical story that takes a few unexpected turns making it quite different from others I’ve read in the Christmas Romance genre.


About the author:

Amy E. Reichert is an author, wife, mom, Wisconsinite, amateur chef, and cider enthusiast. She earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her library’s board of directors. She is a member of Tall Poppy Writers. Learn more at: www.amyereichert.com.


 

The Wedding Ranch

The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication:  December 6, 2022 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When Lorri Walker’s husband gifted her with a mastiff puppy on Valentine’s Day, she believed he was recommitting himself to their marriage after going astray. Six months later, he left both her and their dog for someone else. Since her recent move to Dalton Mill to unbraid herself from the past, Lorri’s graphic design business is now flourishing, her growing mastiff, Mister, has plenty of space to romp, and her ex in Raleigh can fade to a distant memory.

Ryder Bolt is haunted by the tragic loss of his wife and young son seven years ago. Thankfully, ranching keeps Ryder busy, and spending time with his niece and nephew—whose venue, The Wedding Ranch, has become a popular tourist destination—keeps him from getting lonely.

When Lorri and Ryder met, love was the last thing they were looking for. When they’re together, smiles come easier and burdens feel lighter, and both are embracing the possibility of something deeper.

But when a long-buried revelation surfaces, the fate that brought them together threatens to tear them apart. (publisher)

My take:

The Wedding Ranch is a story of two people who meet and form a friendship that grows into something more. They’ve lived through life-changing emotional pain and loss but are in a place where they’re ready to move forward in life. Sounds like they’ll get their happily ever after, right?  But there is something that could change everything.There was foreshadowing early on in the novel so I was waiting to see when and how things would play out. I have to say figuring things out so early on kind of took me out of the story. Still, I liked how Naigle brought Lorri and Ryder on their emotional journey of discovery and forgiveness. I also liked the setting and, of course, Mister the dog.


About the author:

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Nancy Naigle, writes love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

With a career spent on the cutting edge of technology in the banking industry, she never let go of her dream to write. Now she works full-time writing stories that are a calming blend of community, family, and the simple things in life. She writes the kind of stories she hopes will provide an escape from the hectic day-to-day in the make believe worlds she creates.

Aside from writing she enjoys hunting for treasures in junk and antique shoppes, and getting crafty no matter what the medium from painting and digitizing embroidery designs, to weaving pine needle baskets. She also enjoys horseback riding on her palomino, Tooter.

A Virginia native, and spending most of her life in the Tidewater area, she now calls North Carolina home.


 

All Is Bright

All Is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

Published:  September 20, 2022 – HQN

Digital review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Return to Hope’s Crossing this Christmas in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s latest heartwarming story of matchmaking at the holidays!

Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season. (publisher)

My take:

I’ll say right up front All Is Bright is going to be one of my favorite Christmas themed books in the CR genre. The trope of grumpy hero meets optimistic and unstoppable heroine doesn’t alway work for me but in Thayne’s hands it was a win. Sage and Mason have separately faced very difficult emotional and physical challenges but are at the point of moving forward in their lives.

There are sub-plots involving interesting secondary characters, complicated families, and regular daily life. I enjoyed it all and especially appreciated the epilogue that put the bow on this gift of a novel.

If you’re a fan of author RaeAnne Thayne, contemporary romance with a Christmas theme, and a mountain town setting you’ll want to read All Is Bright.


About the author:

RaeAnne Thayne is the #1 Publisher’s Weekly, New York Times, and USA TODAY bestselling author of nearly seventy books. Her books have been described as “poirgnant and sweet,” with “beautiful, honest storytelling that goes straight to the heart.” She finds inspiration from the beautiful northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her family. She loves to hear from readers and can be reach through her webiste at raeannethayne.com.

Author Website: https://www.raeannethayne.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRaeAnneThayne/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/raeannethayne 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raeannethayne 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/116118.RaeAnne_Thayne


 

Coming Home by Shelley Shepard Gray

Coming Home by Shelley Shepard Gray

Expected publication date:  Nov. 29, 2022 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In Woodland Park, a small town nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis were once the high school “it” couple—the star quarterback and the valedictorian. They broke up when Anderson joined the army and one poor decision at a fraternity party changed Chelsea’s life. Now, she works long shifts in a senior center to support her nine-year-old son, Jack.

After multiple tours in Afghanistan, Anderson has changed, too—physically scarred but mentally strong—and he decides to move back to Woodland Park. Anderson and Chelsea steer clear of each other to avoid reopening old wounds, until they are forced to reconnect through the senior center. They soon discover that the love they once shared never completely vanished. But it will take a fire, a dangerous collision, and the love of one little boy to help Anderson and Chelsea see that the future they’ve always yearned for is in sight… (publisher)

My take:

Coming Home is a lovely second chance contemporary romance. Anderson and Chelsea were very much in love as high school students but went their separate ways after graduation – his path to the Army and hers to college. Ten years later they are back living in their hometown where their paths cross once again. Anderson now works at the fire department as a paramedic and Chelsea works at the local senior center. Both were profoundly changed by the experiences in their time apart. Will they give themselves the chance to know each other again?

I loved how author Shelley Shepard Gray’s story played out and especially appreciated the subplot involving older characters. It was nice to see them play more of a role than simply background filler. I look forward to seeing where Gray’s series goes in the second book (due out in 2023).


About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.