Spotlight/US Giveaway: The French War Bride by Robin Wells

the french war bride

Description:  Nazi-occupied Paris serves as the backdrop for Robin Wells’s gorgeous new story of compassion, betrayal, and forgiveness. In THE FRENCH WAR BRIDE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; August 2, 2016; $16) one fierce French woman, and an engaged American army doctor—both with promises to keep—become unexpectedly and permanently entangled. But their story is more complicated than it appears on the surface. . .

Fast-forward to present day. Though she has lived a good life—blessed with a doting husband and many grandchildren—Kat Morgan has never fully recovered from being abandoned by her first love and former fiancé, Jack, who returned home from World War II with a French war bride and a baby. Fearing she has little time left to learn the truth, Kat travels back to Wedding Tree to confront the other woman, Amelie Michaud O’Connor. What happened in France to make Jack jilt her in such an unscrupulous manner?  

As the two women sit together, Amelie tells of coming of age in Paris under Nazi occupation. The daughter of a linguistics professor who taught her English and German, Amelie has just begun an innocent romance with Joshua, a Jewish Austrian immigrant, when the Germans invade France.

With Paris under the thumb of the Nazis, Amelie’s world changes overnight. She loses her father, her home, and all her possessions. She gets a job as a maid at a Parisian hotel housing German army officers, but she is doing more than cleaning rooms; she is spying for la Resistance. 

But, like Jack, Amelie has her own promises to keep. So when she overhears him in a church confessional, she thinks she has found the answer to her prayers, and a way to ensure the future of her newborn baby. As a spy, her whole life has been a lie; what is the harm in telling one more—especially if it is for the good of the child? How could Amelie have known how deeply she would unwittingly draw Jack into the tangled web of her life—or that she would fall desperately in love with him?


About the author:  National bestselling author Robin Wells is a winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the HOLT Medallion, among others.


Praise for The Wedding Tree series by Robin Wells:

“Vibrant characters and a beautifully detailed storyline combine in this compelling tale spanning generations. The alternating POVs are intricately woven together in this tale of love, loss, forgiveness and renewal.”—RT Book Reviews TOP PICK

 

“Women’s fiction fans will appreciate this character-driven story of two generations of women.”

Library Journal

 

Heroes & Heartbreakers “Women’s Fiction Best Bets for December 2015”


US Giveaway

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the french war bride

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

behind closed doors (SMP 8:9)  the denim blue sea  the house between tides (Atria 8:2)

Last week on Bookfan:

you will know me (7:26) the secrets she kept (7:26) Now and Then Friends (7:28) Once Upon a Wine (7:26 NAL)

Reading plan for this week:

all the time in the world   sweet tomorrows (8:2)

 

Once Upon A Wine by Beth Kendrick

  • Once Upon a Wine (7:26 NAL)Title:  Once Upon A Wine
  • Series:  Black Dog Bay, #4
  • Author:  Beth Kendrick
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the “sharp, sassy, [and] surprisingly emotional”* author of Put a Ring on ItNew Uses for Old Boyfriends, and The Week Before the Wedding, a new novel set in the charming seaside town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware…
 
Cammie Breyer needs a big glass of cabernet—her restaurant failed and her chef boyfriend left for a hotter kitchen. Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, her Aunt Ginger calls with a surprise. She’s bought a vineyard. In Delaware. At Ginger’s command, Cammie returns to Black Dog Bay, the seaside town where she spent her childhood summers with her aunt and her cousin, Kat.
 
The three women reunite, determined to succeed. There’s only one little problem: None of them know the first thing about wine making. And it turns out, owning a vineyard isn’t all wine and roses. It’s dirt, sweat, and desperation. Every day brings financial pitfalls, unruly tourists, romantic dilemmas, and second thoughts.  But even as they struggle, they cultivate hidden talents and new passions. While the grapes ripen under the summer sun, Cammie discovers that love, like wine, is layered, complex, delicious, and worth waiting for…  (publisher)

My take:  When Cammie’s aunt buys a vineyard on a whim she calls her niece and daughter for help. Cammie doesn’t have anything to lose at this point so she leaves California and all her disappointments for a new adventure at the Delaware shore. She also reconnects with Ian, the guy she left behind years earlier to pursue her dreams. Cousin Kat, Aunt Ginger’s daughter, is in the middle of an early mid-life crisis. Will she be able to get it together enough to help her mom and cousin make a go of the vineyard?

Once Upon a Wine is the latest addition to the Black Dog Bay series. It features a new dog, the vineyard’s new mascot, Jacques. He has his own twitter account that soon rivals a Kardashian’s! While the women wait for the grapes to ripen they hope to find success with their strawberry wine. They’ll also learn if the adage “Bloom where you’re planted” will hold true.

I thought this book was very cute and funny and sweet. If you’re familiar with the Black Dog Bay series you’ll recognize many of the characters from previous books who make appearances. But the book can stand on its own. It’s a light, fun novel that is perfect for a beach read. Recommended to fans of the series, Beth Kendrick, and novels featuring adorable dogs.


About the author:  Beth Kendrick is the author of twelve women’s fiction novels, including Put a Ring on It, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, Cure for the Common Breakup, The Week Before the Wedding, The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service, and Nearlyweds, which was turned into a Hallmark Channel original movie. She lives in Arizona with two big rescue mutts and vacations at the Delaware beach, where she devotes a great deal of time to eating local strawberries and drinking wine. You know, for research. Visit her online at BethKendrick.com, Facebook.com/BethKendrickBooks, and @BKendrickBooks.

Blog Tour Review: Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt

  • Now and Then Friends (7:28)Title:  Now and Then Friends
  • Series:  Hartly-by-the-Sea #2
  • Author:  Kate Hewitt
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they’ve also grown apart…
 
After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .
 
A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.
 
Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .  (publisher)

My take: Author Kate Hewitt takes readers back to the Lake District village of Hartley-by-the-Sea where we meet Claire and Rachel. These two twenty-somethings were friends when they were very young but circumstances beyond their control put an end to that friendship. Claire was very sheltered by her family and Rachel had to grow up too fast. They meet again as adults but still carry the hurt from the lost friendship.

I liked all of the characters in this book. I think most readers could relate on some level with each one. These people have experienced loss, some more deeply than others. Because of their experiences, they have trust issues and live rather closed-off lives. I enjoyed how Hewitt brought them along as they gained new perspective on their lives and the people closest to them.

Ultimately, Now and Then Friends is an uplifting novel of families and friendship. I enjoyed it. Recommended to fans of Kate Hewitt and women’s fiction.

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

  • the secrets she kept (7:26)Title:  The Secrets She Kept
  • Series:  Fairham Island #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Published:  July 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it. 

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer. 

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk. Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…  (publisher)

My take:  The Secrets She Kept is book 2 in the Fairham Island series. In book 1 we were introduced to the wealthy matriarch Josephine Lazarow. She was a complicated woman (a narcissist) who had to have control over everything and everyone in her life.

In this book a murder (or a suicide?) has taken place. The Lazarow family experiences changes they never anticipated. Josephine’s estranged son Keith returns home to find out what exactly happened to his mother. He also reconnects with Nancy, his love interest from five years earlier.  That’s not all though. Will he be able to prove that his sister couldn’t have had anything to do with their mother’s death?

This is a novel about secrets, lies, betrayals and love – and ultimately, forgiveness. I think fans of Brenda Novak and romantic suspense will enjoy The Secrets She Kept.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author has written more than fifty books, with more than four million copies in print. This four-time RITA® Award nominee has won many awards, including the National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers’ Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date she’s raised $2.7 million.


Praise for the first book in the Fairham Island series: The Secret Sister
“This emotional novel showcases Novak’s exceptional talent at creating genuine characters and real-life situations we sometimes try to dodge. The power of family is strong, and the element of mystery is stable throughout this romance. Fairham Island is painted as a picturesque seaside town, but the debut to this series could have readers believing there are a lot of buried secrets and stories to be told surrounding the residents’ wishes for peace and quiet. Completely engrossing with a twist at the end you wouldn’t dare dream of!”—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Star Top Pick)

The Secret Sister is a sweet story that touches on the trials of life and illustrates how death, loss, abuse, despair, and unexpected trials can make us stronger, but also points out that it is perfectly acceptable to find someone to lean on when you really need the help. This is a great book that romance readers and fans of general fiction are bound to enjoy.”—Portland Book Review

“Skillful plotting, well-developed characters (a blind little girl is adorable), a delightful romance, toxic family dynamics, and a puzzling mystery make this story a rewarding read that will appeal to both romance and women’s fiction fans.”—Library Journal

“In her latest, Novak neatly entwines contemporary romance and women’s fiction by delivering the emotionally compelling romance readers expect while at the same time thoughtfully exploring the other relationships every woman has in her life. Add a gothic-tinged plot, and you have a book with wide reader appeal.”— Booklist

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak is indeed the best romantic thriller I have read… Brenda Novak has a raw talent for bringing her novels to life. Realistic, suspenseful, and an edge of your seat romance that will have readers coming back for more.”—The San Francisco Book Review

Q&A with Megan Abbott and US Giveaway: You Will Know Me

you will know me (7:26)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The audacious new novel about family and ambition from “one of the best living mystery writers” (Grantland) and bestselling, award-winning author of The Fever, Megan Abbott.

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits — until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers — about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself — forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.

From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep, The End of Everything, Dare Me, and The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York TimesPeople Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesSalon, the GuardianWall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times MagazineThe Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.


A CONVERSATION WITH MEGAN ABBOTT: (provided by the publicist)

What was the inspiration for You Will Know Me?

I’ve always been interested in families of prodigies. How power operates in those families, how ambition does. Then, during the London Olympics four years ago, I saw this video of the parents of American gymnast Aly Raisman watching their daughter’s uneven bar routine and it kind of blew me away. They were so invested in it, so connected to her. They moved as she moved. They knew every beat of the performance. The footage went viral and the response to it was tricky. Some people found it funny, others found it problematic and there was some finger pointing. I think we all struggle with how invested parents should be in their children’s development, but with exceptionally talented children, all that is thrown into high relief.

I could just feel the book taking shape after that. How does that kind of intense focus on a child’s talent affect a marriage, for instance? What about siblings? And families in general fascinate me—the place of the greatest darkness and the greatest light.

 

You are known for writing shockingly accurate portrayals of teen angst and an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of teen girls. Why are you so drawn to this subject matter?

In some ways because teen girls are still so often dismissed or condescended to. But every woman I know is haunted in some ways by their teen years, by the choices they made then and the way they crafted their identity and developed their sense of self.

And, as a writer, it’s such rich terrain. Everything is in such high relief during those years. All the big emotions of life seem to storm through us every day. When I remember myself at that age, it was like my nerve endings were all exposed. It’s when you’re both at your most curious (and, potentially, risk-taking) and also at your most vulnerable—especially to disillusionment. And when you’re a mom, like the main character in You Will Know Me, you’re in some ways living through it all again through your daughter, which is incredibly complicated.

 

You Will Know Me is a bit of a departure in that it focuses more on the parents’ perspective. Why did you choose to shift gears in this way?

My last book, The Fever, had three viewpoints, one of whom was the father of two teens, and I really loved it. Exploring the gap between how parents view their teens and how teens view themselves, and vice versa. But it seemed thrillingly different in the case of You Will Know Me. Katie, the protagonist, is so close to her daughter, Devon, because of the way the family has circled itself around Devon’s extraordinary talent. And that closeness fascinates me.

At what point does your child become a stranger to you? Because all children need to break apart from you to become themselves, but is it slower to happen in the case of a prodigy? A case when the parent, like Katie, is so tied up in her daughter’s everyday life?

 

What research did you do into the world of uber-competitive youth gymnastics when writing You Will Know Me?

Gymnast memoirs were a huge help. I read almost every one I could get my hands on. Both the flag-waving sports ones and the tougher ones too, the exposés. The one that had the biggest impact for me was Nadia Comaneci’s Letters to a Young Gymnast, which is a brilliant book on many levels (foremost her strong voice), and is such a keen distillation of what seems a pure, fire-hardened ambition. I also talked to former gymnasts and had one of them read the manuscript.

And, I confess, watching a lot of YouTube, and diving into online chat rooms, especially those devoted to parents of gymnasts. But the book’s title comes from Nadia, who tells her reader, “I don’t know you, but you will know me.” What could be more enticing to a reader?

 

What did you learn about this world that surprised you?

Everything! I became very fixated on the mental control and struggles the gymnasts faced. How much it is a head game. And then the sport’s impact on girls’ developing bodies. It is not a universal experience, but for many girls it halts their adolescence in certain ways, or it threatens to, and this prospect fascinated me and worked its way into the novel. Your body is both your greatest gift and your worst enemy. Maybe we all feel that, in a way.

 

Have any gymnasts or parents of youth athletes read and responded to You Will Know Meyet? 

I’ve had a few early gymnast readers who’ve been very supportive. In particular, they’ve responded to the parent-booster culture in the book, the way parents invest in a gym and insert themselves into gym politics. The hothouse environment that the parent viewing area can take on. Or, “gym drama,” as it’s called. Which seems to have all the hallmarks of a great reality TV show, or a Shakespearean play.

 

After being so close to this world while researching and writing You Will Know Me, will you view the Olympics in Rio this year through a different lens?

I love watching gymnastics and this book reflects a love of, and immense respect for, the sport and the art. But in the end, I think the book is more about family and parent love than gymnastics, so probably my eyes will be more on the families than in past years. More on what it takes for a family to help make an Olympic medalist.

 

You’re working on TV scripts for your novels Dare Me (for HBO) and The Fever (for TNT). What is it like to adapt your own work for the small screen?

As much as people like to say that TV is the new novel, the two are so very different. By the time you sell it, it’s changed so much from the book—the world has gotten so much larger, you’ve had to create ways to make the story possibilities expand indefinitely—you lose all vanity about your own book. Instead, it’s something entirely new. But the biggest difference is how collaborative it is. Writing a novel, until the last stretch, is utterly solitary. Writing for TV is a cacophony of voices. Sometimes noisy, but never, ever lonely!

 

You recently joined the writing staff of David Simon’s (“The Wire”) new HBO drama “The Deuce.” How does that work differ from writing a novel? How did your career in fiction inform your work in the writers’ room? When can we see “The Deuce?”

Different in every way. I’d say apples and oranges, but maybe it’s more like apples and a large, cunning mountain lion! As collaborative as developing your work for TV is, being on staff for a show in production is a thousand times more so. You’re there to help in every way you can to bring the showrunners’ ideas to life. I think there are so many crime novelists writing for TV now because we bring a certain facility with plotting, but in the end what’s most exciting in the writers’ room is how different everyone is, how differently we see the world, and yet how we all value the same things: character, story, meaning.

And “The Deuce,” which stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, will be on HBO next year. I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s incredible.

 

Do you have time to work on another book with all of your TV project in the works? What’s next and when from Megan Abbott?

Somehow, I do! I have a new novel in the works called Give Me Your Hand, which will come out in 2018, I think. It’s about two ambitious female scientists who share a secret from their past. Very Hitchcock-inspired, this one.


US Giveaway

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you will know me (7:26)

Giveaway ends on August 1, 2016

Falling by Jane Green

  • Falling (7:19)Title:  Falling
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either. 

On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son. 

Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.

But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all. 

In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be…  (publisher)

My take:  Emma is really coming into her own as a thirty-something woman beginning a new career in a new town. She left a stressful job in banking in NYC and moved to Connecticut to pursue her love of interior design. It was fun to follow her progress, both emotional and professional. I also enjoyed her neighbor/landlord Dominic and his little boy Jesse. Dominic is so different from any man Emma has ever known but he’s so sincere and confident that she’s attracted to him.

Falling is about finding a life Emma didn’t even know she wanted. It’s about family, friendship, love – it’s about life.

I was completely engaged by the story until a major twist near the end. I wasn’t expecting it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it kind of took me out of the story. I’m always one who thinks it’s the author’s story to tell so I can’t really criticize a plot twist … perhaps there’s a sequel planned. It just seems to beg for a follow-up.

I think fans of the author and women’s fiction will like Falling. It’s the first book I’ve read by Jane Green and I will certainly read more of her books.

Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay

  • Monsters- A Love StoryTitle:  Monsters: A Love Story
  • Author:  Liz Kay
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  June 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Stacey Lane feels like a monster. Tommy DeMarco might be one.

Since her husband died eight months ago, Stacey’s been a certified mess—a poet who can’t write anymore, a good mother who feels like she’s failing her kids. She’s been trying to redefine herself, to find new boundaries.

Tommy has no respect for boundaries. A surprisingly well-read A-list Hollywood star, Tommy’s fallen in love with Stacey’s novel-in-verse, a feminist reimagining of Frankenstein, no less. His passion for the book, and eventually its author, will set their lives on a collision course. They’ll make a movie, make each other crazy, and make love—but only in secret. 

As Stacey travels between her humdrum life in the suburbs of Omaha and the glamorous but fleeting escape Tommy offers in Hollywood, what begins as a distracting affair starts to pick up weight. It’s a weight that unbalances Stacey’s already unsteady life, but offers new depth to Tommy’s.

Navigating desire, love, grief, and parenthood, and brimming with award-winning poet Liz Kay’s keen emotional insight and wry humor,  Monsters: A Love Story is a witty portrait of a relationship gone off the rails, and two people who are made for each other—even if they’re not so sure they see it that way.  (publisher)

My take:  So the synopsis tells you all about the novel. I’ll just say that reading it was like watching a traffic accident in slow motion – very uncomfortable. At the same time it was a surprisingly addictive read. I didn’t want to stop reading! It’s funny, shocking, frustrating, sad – and I liked it.

Stacey is not a very likable character and yet I really felt for her. She’s vulnerable yet strong – at least that’s the image she tries to put out there. Tommy has a mercurial temperament and I never trusted him. I wanted to but couldn’t. Put them both in the Hollywood setting, add alcohol and you’ve got a hot mess. They both have kids so that adds another layer to their relationship.

Liz Kay’s novel kept me reading when I really should have been doing other things. I love when that happens. Recommended to fans of novels about dysfunctional relationships.


About the author:

Liz Kay is a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and the journal burntdistrict.  She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska and was the recipient of both an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Wendy Fort Foundation Prize for exemplary work in poetry.  She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three sons. This is her debut novel.


Praise for MONSTERS: A LOVE STORY

“Witty and so nimbly-worded, Liz Kay’s Monsters: A Love Story had me at hello. From the near-madcap improbability of the novel’s premise, to the punchy repartee and ping pong banter between Stacey and Tommy, it’s impossible to resist the book’s charms. But don’t be fooled. This is more than a feel-good read.” – Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times-bestselling author of Hausfrau

“Magical.” —Lucy Sykes, author of The Knockoff

“Stacey is a feminist poet in Hollywood – you got to love her for that alone. But you also love her because  she’s sharp, tough, and honest. The novel’s wry insights into messy relationships  put me in mind of  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and Emma Straub’s The Vacationers.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola

“Smart, witty, hilarious, raunchy, irresistible.” —Catherine Texier, author of Victorine

“Reads like a seduction. I couldn’t stop.” —Amy Hassinger, author of The Priest’s Madonna

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

  • the memory of lemon cakeTitle:  The Memory of Lemon
  • Author:  Judith Fertig
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  June 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten…
 
Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren’t just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people’s emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers’ souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely’s intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most.
 
Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she’ll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combine to make the most delicious memories… (publisher)

My take:  Neely is a gifted pastry chef. Not only can she tell which flavors a customer will like but she can tell what they need. She can sense their history – going back generations. I loved that aspect of the novel. It made me think about my ancestors and their life experiences and how everything led to where I am now.

Neely has turmoil in her life. She’s waiting for her soon-to-be ex husband to sign the divorce papers so she can move on with her life (hopefully with a certain man from her past). She also has a challenging wedding customer – bride and her mother. And then she receives a letter from her estranged father. There’s a lot going on in her life.

I liked how Judith Fertig blended everything together to make a lovely story of people finding their way. The theme I appreciated most was that we can find inner strength we didn’t know we possessed to carry us through many situations. Recommended to fans of fiction with a dash of magical realism and pastry. A Readers Guide is included at the end.


About the author:

Judith Fertig, author of The Cake Therapist, is an award-winning cookbook author whose food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appétit, Saveur, and the New York Times. Judith attended Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and the Graduate Summer Workshop at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches cooking classes across the country and lives in Kansas City.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

the light of paris (audio)  the other daughter

Last week on Bookfan:

a curious beginning - new cover by the numbers image001-2 better get to livin' (5:31) girl in the afternoon (7:12)

Reading plan for this week:

Firefly Summer (7:26)


Buzz Books 2016

buzz books 2016 RomanceIf you’re a book blogger do you take advantage of the Publishers Lunch books? They’re the ones that feature excerpts from upcoming books. I’ve enjoyed past editions of general fiction and now they’ve released a Romance edition. I found it at NetGalley.

This is a great way to get a taste of books to read in the upcoming season. I found a few favorite authors and clicked the links (when available) to request the galleys. Thanks to Publishers Lunch for offering a Romance edition!

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdick

girl in the afternoon (7:12)

Description:

Better Get To Livin’ by Sally Kilpatrick

  • better get to livin' (5:31)Title:  Better Get To Livin’
  • Author:  Sally Kilpatrick
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  May 2016 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Presley Cline has put aside dreams of Hollywood stardom and come back to Ellery, Tennessee, to work in a beauty shop. In truth, the dreams in question were more her mother’s than her own. Presley may have the face and body of a movie icon, but she lacks the stomach for it. Yet a loving relationship and normal home life seem almost as unattainable as an Oscar. Being able to see and speak to dead people certainly isn’t helping. 

Presley’s first job, beautifying “clients” at the Anderson Funeral Home, is quite a change from working on a movie set. The place is home to dozens of ghosts all hoping that Presley can help them move on–and also one very-much-alive owner, Declan Anderson. Like Presley, Declan is caught between following family expectations and his own aspirations. But with a little meddling from loved ones and locals–both living and dead–Presley is starting to see that life is too short not to be who you want to be, and the most rewarding journeys involve some unexpected detours…  (publisher)

My take:  Better Get To Livin’ isn’t listed as part of a series but its the third of Sally Kilpatrick’s books that takes place in Ellery, Tennessee. Ellery is a small town where everyone went to the same school and everyone knows (or think they know) your business. If that isn’t enough, Presley Cline comes back from Hollywood after compromising photos appear in a fan magazine – so now the whole world knows her business.

Fortunately for Presley, she went to beauty school when she first arrived in Hollywood to help pay the bills while she waited for her big break. That is a huge help when she comes back to Ellery because she’s broke. She gets a job at The Holy Roller (ha!) and is sent to a local funeral home to ready a person for a visitation. That’s where she reconnects with Declan Anderson, funeral director and former high school math tutor to Presley. That’s also where her gift of seeing spirits of the departed becomes apparent to the reader.

This isn’t a paranormal novel but I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. This is a story about one’s hopes and dreams. It’s about finding out and deciding what to do – live for someone else or appreciate every minute of every day and along the way figuring out what your dreams are. I enjoyed it all and hope for more stories from Ellery with all its quirky characters.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

image001-2