The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

  • Title:  The Sunshine Sisters
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  June 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all… (publisher)

My take:  Jane Green’s newest novel is about a family of women: A narcissistic mother in failing health and her three grown daughters who want nothing to do with her or each other.  She sees a chance to change things by bringing her girls together before she dies.

Nell, Meredith and Lizzy know something is up when their mother requests they come home immediately. It’s not a problem for Nell who lives nearby but Meredith lives and works in London and Lizzy is incredibly busy with her pop-up restaurant venture in New York. They drop everything and head home to see what’s going on. The sisters will soon discover things about themselves, their mother and each other.

I liked this novel for its good intentions. It touches on a few serious topics while managing to keep a fairly light tone. But a few things seemed a bit pat – most notably with one daughter’s life going in an unexpected direction almost overnight. I didn’t have a problem with that direction, just how fast it happened. That issue aside, I recommend The Sunshine Sisters as a light read for fans of domestic fiction and Jane Green.


 

The Beach At Painter’s Cove by Shelley Noble

  • Title:  The Beach At Painter’s Cove
  • Author:  Shelley Noble
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  June 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Beach at Painter’s Cove is the story of the Whitakers – a wealthy and eccentric New England family who are on the brink of losing the fabled Muses by the Sea mansion. Through the decades Muses hosted the most notable stars of the art world – a place where artists could practice their craft or just get away and be themselves.

Granddaughter Issy will go down fighting in order to keep her grandmother’s home in the family. That’s not the only issue she’ll face. There are also frustrating family dynamics, intrigue, and general misunderstandings that work into the plot of this multi-generational story. Despite all that, she reconnects with old friends, her grandmother and great-aunt, and a delightful niece who seems to share a lot in common with Issy.

The novel is filled with interesting characters, a lovely setting, and the lesson that change is not always a bad thing. I enjoy a good family drama and that’s exactly what I got with Shelley Noble’s The Beach at Painter’s Cove. A book club guide is included.


About the author:

Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer. She most recently worked on the films Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Liberty States Fiction Writers.


 

The Ridge by John Rector

  • Title:  The Ridge
  • Author:  John Rector
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  284
  • Published:  April 2017 – Thomas & Mercer
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  With its manicured lawns, pastel houses, and quiet, tree-lined streets, Willow Ridge seems to be the perfect place for Megan and Tyler Stokes to start a new chapter in their lives together. But soon after settling in, Megan begins to notice cracks in the neighborhood’s bright suburban facade—cracks that reveal a darker secret hidden just beneath the surface.

After an angry encounter with a neighbor takes a horrifying turn, Megan’s waking nightmare truly begins—growing ever more chilling and bizarre with each shocking twist. Suddenly forced to question everything around her, Megan finds herself trapped between the specter of madness and the shadow of something far worse. Her only hope is to expose the community’s pretty lies and discover the truth about what is really going on in Willow Ridge—a truth so devastating that her life will never be the same. (publisher)

My take:  While thrillers aren’t my go-to genre I was intrigued by the blurb and thought it would be a good read for my vacation. My instincts proved correct. The Ridge was a fast-paced novel that had me remembering The Stepford Wives (was even joked about by a couple of characters).

There’s something different about the town of Willow Ridge. When Megan and her husband move there for his job she can’t wait to move back to Chicago. But she agrees to give it a year. When she begins to notice odd things about her neighbors she may not be able to keep her promise. I couldn’t blame her!

I won’t share any more except to say if you like a short mystery/thriller with light sci-fi overtones you’ll want to look for The Ridge. It was a perfect poolside read.


About the author:

John Rector is the bestselling author of the novels The Ridge, The Cold Kiss, The Grove, Already Gone, Out of the Black, and Ruthless. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and has won several awards, including the International Thriller Award for his novella, Lost Things.

He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury  June 6, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.


About the Author:

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including Publishing, a memoir, and the novels FloraFather Melancholy’s Daughter, and Evensong. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

Book tour schedule

NPR interview with the author


Praise for Gail Godwin:

“Something between a search for understanding and a mournful confession . . . A testament to the power of storytelling to bring solace when none other is possible.” —Washington Post on FLORA

“Remorse may be the defining emotion for our narrator, Helen, but Godwin the writer has nothing to regret: Flora is an elegant little creeper of a story.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

Flora is a beautiful examination of character and the far-reaching repercussions of our actions. Gail Godwin brings grace, honesty, and enormous intelligence to every page.” —Ann Patchett

Flora is Godwin at her best, a compelling story about Helen’s growth of consciousness told with fearless candor and the poignant wisdom of hindsight.” —Boston Globe

“A chronicle of her life as a writer whose career has been boosted and buffeted by the vagaries of the publishing industry. She has made of it a suspenseful account, with . . . emotional depth, too.” —Wall Street Journal on PUBLISHING

“A memoir in the old sense of the term, a story with a scope of five decades written by an author of some renown . . . You don’t have to be a hungry writer or an aspiring editor to appreciate Publishing. You don’t have to have followed Godwin’s career as a reader either, though the millions who have will be treated to a look behind the scenes.” —New York Times Book Review on PUBLISHING

“Godwin affectionately divulges the various moments, places, and characters in her life that eventually slipped into her 14 novels. These disclosures leave you hungry to reread her oeuvre with the newfound secrets in mind.” —Entertainment Weekly on PUBLISHING

“This memoir by the acclaimed, prolific novelist is testament to both her talent and her perseverance.” – O, the Oprah Magazine on PUBLISHING


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on June 14, 2017