Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Eligible (4:19:16 RH)Title:  Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice
  • Author:  Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Genre:  Literary Fiction
  • Pages:  512
  • Publish date:  April 19, 2016 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
 
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
 
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
 
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 
 
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.   (publisher)

My take: I don’t consider myself an Austen scholar – not even close! – but I love her books. Even if you’re not a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I would recommend Eligible based on my enjoyment from reading it. It’s highly readable – addictive, I’d say. I was very happy I’d tossed it in my bag when I went on vacation.

I loved thoroughly modern Lizzie and her endearing sister Jane. Her other siblings added to the plot, for sure. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were similar in temperament to the parents in P&P. I loved the occupations held by Darcy and Bingley and how the modern predicaments of all characters moved the plot.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling of P&P is fun yet addresses the same basic issues as the original. There are distinct differences but I was happy about them – most made me laugh in a good way. I won’t spoil with specifics but I’ll recommend Eligible to anyone looking for an entertaining novel.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti

  • a thousand miles to freedomTitle:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape From North Korea
  • Author:  Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti
  • Translated by:  David Tian
  • Pages:  228
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  July 2015 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea, one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the modern world. As a child Eunsun loved her country…despite her school field trips to public executions, daily self-criticism sessions, and the increasing gnaw of hunger as the country-wide famine escalated.

By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun’s father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun too was in danger of starving. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.

Now, in A Thousand Miles to Freedom, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting exposé of North Korea’s totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. (publisher)

My take:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom is the memoir by Eunsun Kim. She is now 29 years old but was a young girl when she and her mother and sister first fled North Korea to find a better life. Their escape took much longer than expected.

The description from the publisher reveals quite a bit about the journey to South Korea. What impressed me most was Eunsun’s optimism in the face of frightening circumstances – for anyone, much less a young girl. The challenges she and her family faced were daunting but they were determined to get to South Korea. And once there they faced different challenges. I found her observations of life in South Korea interesting. It had to be very difficult to fit in with contemporaries who had no idea of the life you’d left behind.

Eunsun’s determination to get a good education was impressive. I have no doubt she will make her mark on the world. She’s started to make a difference with this memoir. It’s simply written and took just a few hours to read. Recommended to anyone who wants to read a first-hand account of a young person who escaped life in North Korea. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

What We Find by Robyn Carr

  • What We Find (4:5:16)Title:  What We Find: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Series:  Sullivan’s Crossing #1
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Description:  Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing. 

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. 

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship. 

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. 

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to receive this from Goodreads First Reads giveaways. A great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I loved the fully formed main characters, the gorgeous Colorado setting, the enjoyable support characters, and the multi-layered plot. I won’t spoil it by going into the specifics.

I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Robyn Carr you’re going to want to put this at the top of your TBR list. If you enjoy contemporary romance but haven’t read Carr’s books, try this one. I loved it. Oh, I was glad I had tissues nearby while reading the end. An emotional novel that I’m glad I had a chance to read.

Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey plus a US Giveaway

  • Lies and Other Acts of Love (4:5:16)Title:  Lies and Other Acts of Love: A Novel
  • Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies. 
 
Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.
 
But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .  (publisher)

My take:  Sometimes, when I start reading a book, I find a novel that gives me the feeling I’m going to hate leaving the characters behind when I turn the final page. Lies and Other Acts of Love is that kind of novel. I loved it. It’s my kind of book in that it’s about a family of mostly women – like the one I came from. I love reading about the dynamics of that kind of family because it’s always a good story. In this case, we get the story of the matriarch, Lovey, who is 87 years old. We also get her granddaughter Annabelle’s story. She’s just out of college and the world is her oyster.

Lovey is the kind of grandmother most women would love to have. She’s a strong woman who has weathered more than anyone would ever suspect. She took her own mother’s advice to heart and then imparted similar words of wisdom to Annabelle. Both women would discover that you find out how strong you really are by living life and sometimes you have to tell a few lies.

There were parts of the novel that felt like a fairytale. If it was a movie it would be filmed with a filter that would soften all the rough edges and yet tell the pertinent details. Other parts are in precise focus. There are lovely characters, some quirky ones and some you’d just as soon toss in the trash bin. They all made for a good story about life, love and family – one I won’t soon forget. I’m looking forward to what Kristy Woodson Harvey writes next.


US Giveaway

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Lies and Other Acts of Love (4:5:16)


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Riverbend Road (6:21)  I Let You Go (5:3 Berkley)  pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review: Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller
  • Review:  Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe
  • Review:  Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Once a Rancher (3:29)   Blue Stars (Trade PB)   jane steele (putnam)

Reading plan for the week:

Crushed by Deborah Coonts   Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)

I’m going away this week and thought these seemed perfect for the beach:) I have a couple of posts scheduled (one is a US giveaway).  See you next week!

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit:)

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

 

Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe

  • Blue Stars (Trade PB)Title:  Blue Stars
  • Author:  Emily Gray Tedrowe
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  March 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Blue Stars is the story of two women, Ellen and Lacey, who never would have met if Ellen’s adopted son and Lacey’s husband hadn’t gone to war in Iraq in 2005. Two very different women and yet they find a bond when they become the primary advocates for their loved ones. They learn new perspective and discover strength they didn’t know they possessed.

Loosely based on the housing scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Tedrowe’s novel drew me in – something I wasn’t expecting to happen. Ellen, a university professor from Wisconsin, never dreamed she would have a child who enlisted. She was more inclined to protest wars, not write letters to a son serving in one. Lacey, who lives in the Bronx, is a tough nut. She has a young son, works when she can get hours, and her marriage has turned cold. It’s almost a relief when her husband deploys. A few months after deployment life changes for everyone.

Blue Stars wasn’t an easy novel to read and yet Tedrowe kept me turning the pages. I imagine anyone who has had a loved one go to war would relate to it on a few levels. I was invested in Ellen and Lacey’s story and was pleased with where it went and how the author chose to end it. I think it would be a good book club selection.

Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller

  • Once a Rancher (3:29)Title:  Once a Rancher
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Series:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #1
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 2016 – HQN
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Synopsis:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance.

Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well…

Grace Emery doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when the past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for. (publisher)

My take:  Linda Lael Miller builds on her Bliss County series with her newest book Once a Rancher – book 1 of The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. It was fun to see characters from the four previous books as they made brief appearances. That said, you don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy Once a Rancher.

The new series involves the Carson family of three brothers. This book is about Slater Carson, a documentary film producer and Grace Emery, manager of a high-end hotel and spa in the area.

Slater is between projects and is looking forward to a few days of R&R at the ranch. That plan  gets tossed when Grace and her step-son Ryder arrive at his door. Their story takes off from there. It’s what you’d expect from LLM and I enjoyed it all. I liked that there was a bit of a mystery to be solved that grew more and more sinister as the book progressed. I loved the setting – both the hotel and the ranch.

Of course, all’s well that ends well – and this book did. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary and western romance.


Miller_Linda Lael_09-2The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than one hundred historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, the self-confessed barn goddess now lives in Spokane, Washington. Linda hit a career high in 2011 when all three of her Creed Cowboys books—A Creed in Stone Creek, Creed’s Honor and The Creed Legacy—debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Linda has come a long way since leaving Washington to experience the world. “But growing up in that time and place has served me well,” she allows. “And I’m happy to be back home.” Dedicated to helping others, Linda personally finances her “Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women,” which she awards to those seeking to improve their lot in life through education.

More information about Linda and her novels is available at http://www.lindalaelmiller.com. She also loves to hear from readers by mail at P.O. Box 19461, Spokane, WA 99219.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Change of Scene (4:5:16)  Looking Back by Joyce Maynard (kindle)  the-girl-from-home-9781476764283_hr  Family Tree by Susan Wigg (8:9:16 Wm Morrow)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts
  • Review:  Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
  • Giveaway (US/CA):  Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)   summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)   sister dear

Reading plan for this week:

Blue Stars (Trade PB)  jane steele (putnam)

Giveaway (US/CA): Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

sister dear I’m excited to tell you about a giveaway of SISTER DEAR by Laura McNeill. You can check out Goodreads for more information about this novel. laura mcneill

Social Media for author Laura McNeill:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraMcNeillBks

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

laura mcneill sister dear giveaway

Click the link for a Rafflecopter giveaway of three copies of SISTER DEAR.

Good luck!

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

  • summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)Title:  Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery
  • Author:  Jenny Colgan
  • Series:  Little Beach Street Bakery #2
  • Pages:  416
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.  (publisher)

My take:  Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Mount Polbearne. I loved seeing what was new in the lives of Polly, Huckle and all the rest. We meet a few new characters and yes, Neil the puffin is back.

Colgan’s novel lived up to my expectations. There’s love, loss, humor and drama in the lives of the residents of the tiny seaside village in Cornwall we first visited in Little Beach Street Bakery. It was great to visit and my hope is that we might someday meet up again.

Even though Colgan provides a brief catch-up of the first book I highly recommend reading it before this book because I enjoyed it so much. Fans of small town settings and characters will find a lot to love in these books.

Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts

  • Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)Title:  Home on Apple Blossom Road
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls #9
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 22, 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Home is where the love is… 

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin’s grandmother, Justine, has died, and they’ve come home to honor this woman they both loved. That’s when they get some unexpected news. They’re about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine’s designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. 

But they’re not kids anymore, and they sure aren’t best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it’s complicated.  

On the trail of Justine’s treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn’t?  (publisher)

My take:  Home on Apple Blossom Road is a sweet story about two people finding their way back home. They didn’t intend to take this journey but Grandma Justine had a plan that they had to finally pay attention to. She’d tried to tell them when she was still alive but to no avail. Now they’d have to listen to her – via her treasure hunt – and just maybe her plan would work.

Sheila Roberts’ characters are never perfect so I find them relatable on a few different levels. I could understand Mia and Colin’s reluctance to try make things the way they used to be. Colin is involved with a beautiful young woman and Mia just received a promotion at work. This is not a good time to resurrect the past. Hmm, is it possible Justine misjudged these two?

I enjoyed this installment to the Life in Icicle Falls series. It’s filled with character cameos from previous books making it that much more fun to read. That said, don’t worry if you haven’t read other books in the series. You won’t be lost. I thought this novel was one of the best of the series. Recommended to fans of the author and small town contemporary romance.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

An empty mailbox so I’ll enjoy a catch up week.

Last week on Bookfan:

Except for vacation weeks I can’t remember the last time I went a week with no posts. I’ve been reading though so reviews will start appearing this week:)

Reading plan for this week:

summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)  keep me posted (review 4:19)

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)  keep me posted (review 4:19)  jane steele (putnam)

Crushed by Deborah Coonts  the park of sunset dreams (Dare Valley #6)  Blue Stars (Trade PB)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review: The House on Primrose Pond

image001-2

Reading plan for this week:

Lone Heart Pass (4:26)  summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)

The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough

  • image001-2Title:  The House on Primrose Pond
  • Author:  Yona Zeldis McDonough
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  February 2016 – NAL Accent
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire. 
 
While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.
 
Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper… (back of the book)

My take:  Susannah and her two children move to New Hampshire from Brooklyn a year after the death of her husband. They move into her family cottage on Primrose Pond and start a new chapter in their lives. While adjusting to her new circumstances Susannah makes a few discoveries that make her question all she knew to be true. There are issues of guilt and anger concerning her husband’s death and the fallout experienced by Susannah’s daughter and son. Family dynamics are certainly at the forefront in this novel.

Susannah, a historical fiction author, starts to work on a new book. It’s different from anything she’s written before. The research takes her on a journey that will, in some minor ways, affect how she looks at events in her life and bring her to a place of acceptance and, quite possibly, forgiveness. I’m a fan of historical fiction so I enjoyed the passages of the book Susannah was writing.

All in all, the novel held my interest. I liked most of the characters and wasn’t ready to let them go as I turned the last page.  Included at the end are a conversation with the author and discussion questions.

Sunday Post

I’ll be away this week on a winter escape. See you in a week or so.

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

The Ones Who Matter Most (NAL Tour)  The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay (Aug 9)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review: The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery
  • Review: The Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas

the friends we keep (2:23)   The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)

Reading plan for this week:

best of my love (4:26)  Eligible (4:19:16 RH)  after you (audiobook:library)

The Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas

  • The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)Title:  The Promise of Forgiveness
  • Author:  Marin Thomas
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Pub. Date:  March 1, 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Synopsis:  When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.
 
But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma. 
 
As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind. (publisher)

My take:  Ruby Baxter is at the point in life where she’s going to be the one to cut out before anyone else will leave her again. So when she received a letter from her birth father asking her to see him she decided to give him two minutes and then would move on with her life. What she didn’t expect was that her fourteen year old daughter would want to get to know her grandfather.

With their visit extended indefinitely Ruby is forced to consider a relationship with the man who gave her away just days after her birth. More than a couple of characters have to learn to forgive in order to move forward – and sometimes that means to forgive themselves first. Marin Thomas made me care about her characters and cheer them on their journey of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.

The novel is filled with colorful secondary characters (the sheriff, the bar owner, and the proprietor of the general store – to name a few) who added a good deal to the plot. There was also a mystery to solve – who was sabotaging the ranch and why?

The Promise of Forgiveness is the author’s first women’s fiction novel after publishing more than two dozen romance novels. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of Marin Thomas and women’s fiction.


 

The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

  • the friends we keep (2:23)Title:  The Friends We Keep
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  February 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description: After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?  (publisher)

My take:  So we have Gaby who looks forward to going back to work when her twins start school, Hayley who wants nothing more than to have a baby no matter what the cost, and Nicole who doesn’t want to trust her heart to anyone.

I think my favorite character was Hayley because of her emotional dilemma. I really felt sympathy for her. That said, she really needed some therapy to work through her issues. I imagine a book group would have a lot to discuss about her and the other two main characters – especially groups whose members are raising young families. I’m past that stage so when I got a little frustrated with the characters I chalked it up to where I am in life.

Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

Sunday Post

Last week I marked eight years of blogging about books. When I began Bookfan back in 2008 I wasn’t sure how long I would keep this blog thing going:)  Now, starting my ninth year, I’m amazed by all the wonderful people I’ve met and all the good books I’ve read. Thanks for visiting, commenting, and making this such a great experience!

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Everything’s Relative by Jenna McCarthy

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Reading plan for this week:

What We Find (4:5:16)   Lies and Other Acts of Love (4:5:16)