A quiet week with some nice walks. Wishing all in the US a nice Independence Day!
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A young mayor will do anything to save her town, even if it means welcoming back the man she blames for almost destroying it in REDEMPTION BAY (HQN Books, July 2015, $7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN.), the second book in New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s enthralling Haven Point series.
Synopsis: McKenzie Shaw would do anything for her hometown of Haven Point. It may be small, but it’s never let her down…unlike gorgeous, infuriating Ben Kilpatrick.
Ben was her childhood hero until he closed his family’s boat factory, leaving the town’s economy in shambles.
But now his tech firm is considering opening a local facility. Her natural instinct, fueled by all these years of resentment, is to fight him at every turn. For Haven Point’s sake, however, McKenzie must grit her teeth and be as welcoming as she can manage—a task further complicated by her fierce attraction to Ben and her discovery that he is renting the lake house next door to hers.
For Ben, being back in Haven Point evokes all the dark and ugly memories of his childhood. What could a town filled with painful memories ever offer him? Yet seeing Haven Point through the eyes of McKenzie—its fiery young mayor—he suddenly has his answer. If only he can resolve the animosity crackling between them, Ben may have found the place where he can build ties and find healing…a place where love arrives when it’s least expected.
My take: RaeAnne Thayne has quickly gone to the top of my auto-read authors list. She writes about small towns and the people who live there with such a clear, true voice that I find her books immensely enjoyable.
Redemption Bay is the story of Ben and Mackenzie. They knew each other when they were younger but now they’re in their 30s and have followed different paths. Ben is an executive in a tech company who is back in town to scout sites for a possible division of the company. Mackenzie is the mayor of Haven Point and knows what the location of the company could mean for her town. She has to get over her possible misconceptions of the type of man Ben has become and try to convince him that Haven Point is the perfect place for his company. Ben needs to come to terms with his painful past and be open to hearing explanations from people who matter.
I thought Thayne did a good job of developing the relationship between Ben and Mackenzie. She also brought unexpected drama to the story near the end that kept me turning the pages. I recommend this addition to the Haven Point series and can’t wait to read the next book. Fans of RaeAnne Thayne and the Haven Point series won’t be disappointed.
REDEMPTION BAY is available wherever books are sold and through Harlequin.com
“[Thayne] engages the reader’s heart and emotions, inspiring hope and the belief that miracles are possible.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber
“Thayne’s beautiful, honest storytelling goes straight to the heart.” —RT Book Reviews
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.
Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.
Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at raeannethayne.com.
of one copy of Redemption Bay and one handmade bookmark
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Atria Books | Hardcover | 384 pages | ISBN 9781501115066 | $25.00
“Every bit as churlish but lovable as Backman’s cantankerous protagonist in his debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), precocious Elsa will easily work her way into the hearts of readers who like characters with spunk to spare. A delectable homage to the power of stories to comfort and heal, Backman’s tender tale of the touching relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a tribute to the everlasting bonds of deep family ties.” – Booklist (starred)
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
About the author:
My take: Longtime friends Emma, Serena and Mackenzie haven’t seen each other in five years but plan to meet for a week at Emma’s lake home to catch up. Emma has her own reasons for inviting her friends. She just hopes their bond remain intact once those reasons are known. But on the day they are to meet in NYC for the drive upstate to the lake one of them is in a terrible accident that changes their plans.
Wendy Wax is back with a novel about three friends and how events, secrets and lies can change lives even when done with the best of intentions. I thought the main characters were interesting and, on some level, relatable. Each of the three friends has made choices in life that are beginning to show less than desirable results. They’ll find out if it’s too late to change course.
I loved the lake house setting and the mostly relaxed feeling I had when reading those scenes. What resonated most for me was the theme of forgiveness and all that comes with it. A Week at the Lake is a perfect summer read – or one to make you feel like it’s summer! Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.
Synopsis: Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…. (publisher)
My take: This is the story of Georgia Ford, a young woman who can fix everyone else’s problems but her own it would seem. Georgia has a big problem – whether to marry her fiancé in a few days as planned or call the whole thing off. She’ll have to figure it out herself because none of her family is willing to tell her what to do. That may be because they all have big problems of their own.
Eight Hundred Grapes is about family dynamics and issues. I found all of the characters engaging. I loved how Laura Dave’s story developed and concluded and I turned the last page smiling and wishing for more.
Highly recommended to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.
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Last week was a good one for walking. I got out for an early walk each morning and then finished up later with a treadmill walk. Really made a difference with the fitbit totals. We have a few social events this weekend so I’m not sure what will happen to steps. Hoping the extras earlier in the week will keep my average up. Have a good week!
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When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane making out is sent to everyone, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut, as Brooke and her best friend Gemma try to restore their popularity. Gossip and bullying hound Carolyn, who becomes increasingly private and isolated. When Shane and Brooke—now back together—confront Carolyn in the student parking lot, injuring her, it’s the last attack she can take. Sarah Bannan’s deft use of the first person plural gives Weightless an emotional intensity and remarkable power that will send you flying through the pages and leave you reeling.
Author Bio: SARAH BANNAN was born in upstate New York and moved frequently growing up, living in Texas, in Florida and in Alabama. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2000 with a degree in literature and literary history. Following college, she moved to Ireland, working in various roles in the arts and, since 2007, she has been Head of Literature with the Irish Arts Council. Sarah lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.
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SUMMER SECRETS is set partly in London and partly in Nantucket. Why did you choose these settings? I can’t ever get too far from my London roots. It’s hard for me to write about it now, it has changed so much since I moved away fifteen years ago, but I grew up there, and I love that nostalgic jolt I get when I delve into my memories for my characters. And Nantucket is the most magical place on earth – if I could set every book there, I would. In SUMMER SECRETS, Cat confronts a secret in her family’s past. Was this plotline inspired by any personal experiences? My husband has a cousin who recently discovered, in his 50s, that the man he thought was his father wasn’t his father. Coincidentally, I have cousins who don’t know they are related to me — the result of an illicit affair one of my uncles had years ago. I am fascinated by the secrets people keep, and the impact those have on our lives. SUMMER SECRETS is your 17th book. All of your novels have been bestsellers. Once you hit the New York Times bestseller list, is there more pressure on you to continue to write books that hit the list? The pressure grows and grows…will you make the list, will you be higher than last time, is your career on the upswing or is this the moment it all comes crashing down and everyone realizes you’re actually a load of rubbish. I had tremendous, and instant, success with my early books, and later had a period when things were quieter. It was a humbling and valuable lesson. Now I tend to focus less on how well the book does, and more on creating the best possible book I can create. If I know I’ve done that, then I’m happy. How and when do you write? Please describe your writing routine, rituals, and traditions. I write in the mornings, taking myself off to a small writer’s room in town where I sequester myself for three or four hours. I need frequent large cups of coffee and spare batteries for the huge noise-cancelling headphones I wear, listening to either classical or ambient music. I buy a new notebook dedicated to each new book Large, thin enough to slip into my computer case, the very first page always contains notes on the story, before moving on to characters. All my thoughts and notes go into the book, always in longhand, before being typed up on the computer. And it’s usually pink. Before you became a women’s fiction favorite, you were a journalist. Do you miss the 9-5 routine? The only thing I miss is going to work every day with my best friends. I worked on the women’s desk of the Daily Express and we were such a tight knit group, going to work was actually my favorite part of the day. This summer you launched a Kickstarter campaign for an exclusive cookbook GOOD TASTE. Please give us all the delicious details. On June 11, I announced plans to self-publish my first cookbook! I’m so excited! It will be supported directly by my fans via Kickstarter – the only place to buy the book ($25!) is through Kickstarter, until July 7th. http://kck.st/1B8BvGC. Drawing on stories from my life and the food that runs through these personal stories — from caring and cooking for a friend with breast cancer, to supporting my blended family with six kids and several animals, to my family’s recent move into an antique cottage on the water, the book is a combination of recipes, gorgeous photos and original writing. And because I’m doing this cookbook through Kickstarter, it has my fingerprints on every inch. It feels as personal as it gets. I have loved the creative process and the freedom I have had to give my readers what feels like a piece of my heart. There will be a limited print-run and my fans can learn more and pre-order their copy by visiting http://kck.st/1B8BvGC, or my website. How and when did you learn to cook? Have you had any professional training? I learned in my mother’s kitchen, perched on a stool and helping out as she cooked, graduating to studying recipes as a teenager, and finally, a few years ago, doing the Part One of a professional chef’s training at the French Culinary Institute in New York. To go back to being a student again at this age, when I have children, and a whole other life, was an enormous privilege – it was exhilarating and huge fun. What are some of your favorite dishes to cook, those that you return to again and again? I’m a big fan of comfort food, so anything that can be slow-cooked in one pot is always going to be a win. I make braised lamb shanks and short ribs quite regularly, and an English Victorian breakfast dish called Kedgeree, which is curried rice, salmon and eggs, that we all adore. What have you read lately that you’ve loved? I was lucky enough to read I Take You by Eliza Kennedy as an advance copy, and it had me crying with laughter in a way I hadn’t since Bridget Jones’s Diary. Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is another I was lucky enough to read early, and another I plan to revisit, savoring the stories of hoity toity women on the Upper East Side of New York. Any other books you are looking forward to reading this summer? Laura Dave is not only one of my favorite writers, but one of my favorite people. Her latest, Eight Hundred Grapes, is first on my list. Jamie Attenberg’s The Middlesteins was a wonderful, poignant book. So I can’t wait to dive into Saint Mazie. And what can I say? Who won’t be reading Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event this summer? What can you tell us about the next Jane Green novel? And how long will we have to wait for it? With any luck I’ll be finished in August of this year. It’s called The Hemlock Sisters (although that could change), and it’s about three estranged sisters who reunite when their mother announces she is ill.
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My take: When Vanessa Moran comes home for the funeral of her cousin’s husband she plans to stay for the service and then continue on to the shore for a well-deserved vacation. But things don’t go as planned.
Van left 15 years earlier and never looked back. She worked hard, studied hard, and found a career organizing and managing other people’s homes and lives in Manhattan. What she left behind was her old life: an alcoholic, unforgiving father; a ruined relationship with her boyfriend; and school friends who seemed to be going nowhere. Now she finds some things have changed and a few haven’t. As her plans change and she starts to get to know people again will she be open to changes in her own life?
Shelley Noble’s characters might seem a little familiar to anyone who grew up in a small town. I enjoyed them all. My favorite character was Dorie, the owner of the Blue Crab restaurant. More than that, she was a mother figure to more than a few kids in town. Her house was the safe place to go no matter what the circumstances. She was a good sounding board and also the voice of reason. I also liked Van’s friend Suze. Everyone needs a BFF like Suze.
Themes of forgiveness and second chances run through Whisper Beach. The novel wasn’t tied up neatly at the end which is why I hope Noble will return to Whisper Beach in the not too distant future. Recommended to fans of the author and Women’s Fiction.
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Synopsis: Claire “Neely” O’Neill is an extraordinarily talented pastry chef. But at a time when her life outside her kitchen seems to be falling apart, Neely moves back to her small Midwestern hometown from NYC to open a bakery and work through the heartache that caused her to flee her life in New York. The bakery, Rainbow Cake, named after her signature ROYGBIV confection, is perfect, intimate, and just what she’s always dreamed of.
As she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told. As she tastes her way through others’ mysterious pasts, she largely ignores the pain and uncertainty in her own. Neely has always been able to help everyone else, but getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself. (publisher)
About the author:
Cookbook author Judith Fertig grew up in the Midwest, went to La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Kansas City. Described by Saveur Magazine as a “heartland cookbook icon,” Fertig writes cookbooks that reflect her love of bread, baking, barbecue, and the fabulous foods of the Heartland.
Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appetit, Saveur and The New York Times. You can read some of her cookbooks like novels–the fabulously photographed Heartland, the award-winning and James Beard Awards-nominated Prairie Home Cooking (a “tour de force,” says Saveur), the encylopedic All-American Desserts, and Prairie Home Breads. Her IACP Cookbook Award-winning The Back in the Swing Cookbook (with Barbara C.Unell) takes you on a delicious daily journey to get you back in the swing after breast cancer.
Synopsis: As we like to say in the south, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
Ella’s life has been completely upended. She’s young, beautiful, and deeply in love–until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she’ll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers’ block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He’s on the look-out for a love story. It doesn’t matter who it belongs to.
When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It’s the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It’s an opportunity to live out a fantasy – the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what’s a little white lie between strangers?
But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right? (publisher)
My take: Ella and Hunter have not had success in the love department. So what can happen if they embellish the truth when they meet? They won’t see each other again so what’s the harm in telling a few fibs?
Patti Callahan Henry’s novel explores reality vs. the way we think love should be. I felt kind of sorry for Ella. She’s been left by the people she loved. Her mother died in a horrible way and her husband found the love of his life (not Ella, apparently). And then her boss does some shady things. I’d have been surprised if Ella didn’t go a little crazy.
Hunter’s last few films have been critical flops. He needs to write a winning script or he’ll be done in Hollywood. When he ends up in Ella’s town looking for ideas he can’t believe his luck when he meets her. Unable to resist Ella’s story, he takes the facts of her sad tale and writes a script. He’s lied to her about his identity and job so she’ll never find out what he’s done with her story.
My favorite character was the woman who lived below Ella’s (temporary) apartment. Mimi was colorful and imparted wisdom like a fairy godmother. She quietly forced Ella to get out of her own head and start asking herself the important questions.
Confused yet? I wasn’t. I liked the novel even though I thought the end a bit too Hollywood. There would be a few things for book groups to discuss – most importantly the idea of love and how one might be tempted to try to make it reality.
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling storyteller of eleven books, including The Stories We Tell, Between the Tides, and Driftwood Summer. Patti lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband and three children, where she is crafting her next story.
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