Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

the lupus book  Inside the O'Briens (Apr7)

Last week on Bookfan:

Makin' Miracles (Dec30)  Saving Grace by Jane Green  First Frost (1:20:15)

Currently reading:

First Frost (1:20:15)  Girl Before a Mirror (Jan27)Vine  a royal experiment (H.Holt 11:14)


FitReaders2015

I’ve had a Fitbit for almost two years and have found it to be an amazing motivator. Although my steps took a nose dive a few months ago I’m feeling much better lately and they’re on the uptick again. Yay! So, here are my stats for my first week with the #Fitreaders:

  • Sat:  12,071
  • Sun:  12,455
  • Mon:  11,564
  • Tues:  10,475
  • Wed:  12,513
  • Thurs:  12,473
  • Fri:  6,010

I think I’ll go to a separate post for Fitreaders starting next week. I think it deserves its own post :)  Have a great week!

First Book of 2015: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

first book 2015



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Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of GARDEN SPELLS comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves…
It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins. (from the publisher)
First Frost (1:20:15)
I waited to start reading this book until today. I’m so excited because it is a follow-up to Garden Spells – the first book I read by Sarah Addison Allen. I was an instant fan.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Saving Grace by Jane Green

Saving Grace by Jane Green

From the number one bestselling author of Tempting Fate and The Beach House comes Jane Green’s stunning new novel about a shattered marriage and a devastating betrayal

A perfect stranger wants her perfect life.

Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted, in a picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York State.

Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth quickly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel sidelined in her home–and her marriage–by this ambitious younger woman.

Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought?

Filled with Jane’s own recipes–she trained as a chef at the French Culinary Institute–SAVING GRACE also explores the misdiagnosis of mental illnesses, and the dangers of handing out drugs which are supposed to cure, but end up causing more harm.


“Green spins a dark romance, recalling All About Eve, where intimacy masks betrayal.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Green tackles serious issues such as emotional abuse and over-prescribing of drugs while still managing to keep the pages turning at a rapid rate.”  –Booklist

“Fans of Green get everything they have come to expect and love in this psychological domestic drama: it’s fast paced and emotionally satisfying.” –Library Journal 


Jane Green headshot small
ABOUT JANE GREEN
Jane Green’s sixteenth novel, Saving Grace, will be published on December 30th, 2014; she is the author of fifteen previous New York Times bestselling novels. Initially known for writing about single thirty-somethings, she has gone on to write mature stories about real women dealing with all the things life throws at them, with her trademark wisdom, wit and warmth.
A former feature writer for the Daily Express in the UK, Green took a leap in faith when she left, in 1996, to freelance and work on a novel. Seven months later, there was a bidding war for her first book, Straight Talking, the saga of a single career girl looking for the right man. The novel was an immediate top-ten bestseller in England, and Green was an overnight success.
Now in her forties, Green has graduated to more complex, character-driven novels that explore the concerns of real women’s lives, from marriage (The Other Woman) to motherhood (Another Piece of My Heart) to divorce, stepchildren, affairs, and most recently, midlife crises (Family Pictures and Tempting Fate).
She joined the ABC News team to write A Modern Fairytale – their first enhanced digital book – about the history of Royal marriages, then joined ABC News Radio as a live correspondent covering Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. She has written a micro-series for Dove starring Alicia Keyes, many short stories, and has contributed to various anthologies, as well as regularly appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart show, and The Today Show.
Together with writing books and blogs, she contributes to various publications, both online and print, including Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, and Self, has taught at writers conferences, and does regular keynote speaking.
A foodie and passionate cook, Green filled one of her books, Promises to Keep, with recipes culled from her own collection. She says she only cooks food that is “incredibly easy, but has to look as if you have slaved over a hot stove for hours.” This is because she has six children, and has realized that “when you have six children, nobody ever invites you anywhere.”
Most weekends see her cooking for a minimum of twenty people in her home in Westport, Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and their blended family. When she is not writing, cooking, gardening, filling her house with friends and herding chickens, she is usually thanking the Lord for caffeine-filled energy drinks.
US Giveaway
Giveaway has closed
Saving Grace by Jane Green

Makin’ Miracles by Lin Stepp

  • Makin' Miracles (Dec30)Title:  Makin’ Miracles
  • Author:   Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian
  • Published:  December 30, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Zola Devon has always been a little different. Half Tahitian, with long black hair and dark eyes, she’s especially distinctive in the mountain town of Gatlinburg. She even stocks her gift shop, Nature’s Corner, with items that reflect her island heritage and tantalize tourists. But it’s her spot-on intuition that truly sets Zola apart. When she gets a hunch about a person, she’s almost always right. And when the surly photographer who owns the gallery next door starts meddling in her business, she can only hope that, for once, her instincts are wrong.

The one thing Spencer Jackson loves more than his camera is the majestic scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Reeling from his painful past, he’s settled in a cabin in the woods to train his lens on the breathtaking landscape. A woman as uniquely beguiling as Zola could only throw his simple, uncomplicated days into chaos–and force him to lay bare his darkest secrets. But as their lives become unavoidably intertwined, they both may discover the beauty of the truth, and the joy of the unexpected.  (publisher)

My brief take:  This is the second of Lin Stepp’s novels I’ve had a chance to read. I love the Smoky Mountain setting, the characters who seem so genuine, and her themes of people learning to forgive, trust, and love. Pertinent bible references are woven into the story in a relevant and natural way.

I had issues with Spencer. He seemed almost immature in his attitude toward his problems with his family and his willingness to let go of the past. It made him moody and rather annoying. I couldn’t understand why Zola kept seeing him. But she did. I really liked Zola. She had such a wonderful outlook on life and a great sense of who she was. She looked for and found the goodness in people. It was easy to understand why Spencer would be attracted to her.

Makin’ Miracles is a story of drama, mystery, romance and family dynamics. I enjoyed the pace and was satisfied with how Stepp wrapped things up. Recommended to fans of Christian Contemporary Fiction.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

the ladies' room  the way home by cindy gerard

Last week on Bookfan:

Note: For the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR by Liza Palmer. Because of the busy season I didn’t have much time to read. I decided to put it aside until after January 1st. This decision is NOT for the reason you might think. I’m loving it! But it doesn’t publish until late January 2015 and may very well end up on my favorite reads list. Since I stick to books read in the calendar year for my favorites list I want to read most of it in 2015. I can’t wait to pick it back up!

I’m currently listening to:

the duchess war - audio

and currently reading:

unfaded glory (Oct28)


 

FitReaders2015

I’m going to join the 2015 #FitReaders for 2015. If you’re interested click the link and join the group!

The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley

  • The Divorce Diet (Dec30)Title:  The Divorce Diet
  • Author:  Ellen Hawley
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  December 30, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Abigail is sure the only thing standing between her and happiness is the weight she gained along with her beloved new baby. Until she instantly loses 170 pounds of husband.

When Thad declares that “this whole marriage thing” is no longer working, a shell-shocked Abigail takes her infant daughter, Rosie, and moves back to her parents’ house. Floundering, she turns to an imaginary guru and best friend, the author of her new weight-loss book. But surviving heartache, finding a job, and staying sane as a suddenly single new mom isn’t easy, especially on a diet–sorry, life journey.

Make an inventory of your skills, Abigail’s guru instructs. Abigail loves cooking and preparing food–real food, not the fatless, joyless dishes her diet prescribes, or the instant-frozen-artificially flavored fare she finds in her mother’s kitchen. So far, following everyone else’s rules has led to being broke, lonely, and facing a lifetime of poached eggs, faux mayonnaise, and jobs in chain restaurants. What might happen if Abigail followed her own recipe for a good life instead?…

Bitingly funny, wise, and insightful, Ellen Hawley’s fresh new novel is an ode to food and self-discovery for any woman who’s ever walked away from a relationship–or a diet–to find what true satisfaction is all about.  (publisher)

My brief take:  When Abigail takes her baby and moves back home with her parents (after her husband tells her it’s him, not her) she’s already started a diet to lose the pregnancy weight. She soon finds herself on a journey of discovery by having internal conversations with her diet guru – the author of the self-improvement (diet) book.

Abigail reconnects with her roots and realizes how superficial she’d become because of her relationships and marriage. Little by little, she gains compassion and empathy for the people in her life.

I found this novel best read in small bites – a few chapters at a time. There were times when I wanted to give Abigail a shake and say “get over yourself”. I think that’s due to the first person narrative. That issue aside, I enjoyed the novel – and there are recipes at the end :)

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Lots of books in my mailbox last week. One gifted, one for review, and several on my wish list that were offered on sale by the publishers – thanks, publishers!!

prayers for sale  more like her  stargazey nights (novella)  the map of true places

the marriage charm (Jan27)  the martian (audible)  butternut lake - the night before christmas (novella)

Last week on Bookfan:

knit the season (audio CDs)

Currently reading:

Girl Before a Mirror (Jan27)Vine

Reading this for the second week in a row because I haven’t had a lot of time to read. I’m sure you understand! I’m enjoying it – love how Liza Palmer tells a story.

 

Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs

  • knit the season (audio CDs)Title:  Knit the Season (audiobook)
  • Series: Friday Night Knitting Club #3
  • Author:  Kate Jacobs
  • Narrator:  Carrington MacDuffie
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  2009 – Penguin Audio
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Knit the Season is a loving, moving, laugh-out-loud celebration of special times with friends and family. The story begins a year after the end of Knit Two, with Dakota Walker’s trip to spend the Christmas holidays with her Gran in Scotland-accompanied by her father, her grandparents, and her mother’s best friend, Catherine. Together, they share a trove of happy memories about Christmases past with Dakota’s mom, Georgia Walker-from Georgia’s childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom. From Thanksgiving through Hanuk­kah and Christmas to New Year’s, Knit the Season is a novel about the richness of family bonds and the joys of friendship. (publisher)

My brief take: I needed to finish knitting a scarf and wanted to do it before Christmas. That’s when I remembered I had this audiobook on my shelf. It was the perfect way to complete my project as well as Kate Jacob’s series about women who become friends because of their love of knitting.

The year is nearing the end and the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club are feeling that change is in the air. How will it affect the club? Why can’t things stay the same? Memories of the FNKC founder Georgia abound as the women find that though change is unavoidable some things will remain constant – most important being the support each woman gives the others.

This novel is about family – the one you’re born to and the one made up of friends you choose. Both are equally important. If you’re a fan of the first two books you’ll want to read Knit the Season. It’s a lovely wrap-up to the trilogy.

2014 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge: Wrap Up

2014 finishtheseriesrc

The 2014 FtSRC was the only challenge I accepted this year. I did ok but didn’t quite reach my goal of completing 3 series.

I finished the Grace Valley series by Robyn Carr and I’m up to date in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. The links take you to the challenge page here on the blog. Scroll down to see my results.

Thanks to Yvonne for hosting. I haven’t decided if I’ll formally join the 2015 challenge. I may check in on the Goodreads FtSRC challenge page.

The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

  • the christmas ranch (Nov18)Title:  The Christmas Ranch
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek #1
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family’s property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday. This will be the most memorable Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle. 

Rafe is undeniably drawn to Hope and her passion for rebuilding her family home. But he knows more about Hope’s tragic past than even she herself could imagine. And though she doesn’t know it, she owes him her life. And all he wants in return is for her to spend it with him.  (publisher)…

My brief take: The Christmas Ranch is a lovely story about two people who go above and beyond to help the people in their lives. Rafe put his life in San Diego on hold to care for his nephew in rural Idaho. Hope is determined to get the family Christmas Ranch up and running again in time for the holiday season. Once Christmas is over the two will go back to their separate  lives – or so they plan. Eventually they figure out that “sometimes what you think you want is different from what you really need”. It’s a sweet story that embodies the spirit of Christmas. Recommended to fans of the author and a sweet Christmas romance.

Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Snow Angel Cove (Oct28)Title:  Snow Angel Cove
  • Series:  Haven Point #1
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne welcomes you to Haven Point, a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright 

Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward’s Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she’s stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a hero, but she’s not expecting one who almost runs her down with his car! 

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza’s hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew what his life was missing before Eliza, but now he’s willing to risk his heart on a yuletide romance that could lead to forever.  (publisher)

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne begins her new series in the small Idaho town of Haven Point. She features a familiar character (Aidan Caine) from her Hope’s Crossing series. Aidan hasn’t had the best luck recently but no one would know because he keeps his private life private. That changes when he literally runs into Eliza Hayward in Haven Point. Eliza would say her luck has been worse than Aidan’s. I thought it was a toss-up.

Thayne sets the series up in this novel. We meet many of the locals who I’m sure will be featured in future books. The town is not doing well since the closing of a factory – the largest employer of Haven Point citizens. The locals are upset and not trusting of Aidan (the new owner of many of the buildings in Haven Point). I’m sure this theme will be woven through the next books. I also think Aidan will make sure he does all he can to help the town.

The Christmas theme is at the forefront as Eliza readies Aidan’s lodge for the arrival of his extended family for the holiday. Thayne’s descriptions were lovely and made for the perfect setting of a Christmas book. I liked Aidan and Eliza’s story but I thought it was a bit rushed near the end. No matter, it was enjoyable and I recommend it to fans of the author and a nice Christmas romance.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals (linked to Mailbox Monday)

the custom of the country -audio A Rule Against Murder (audio; Louise Penny #4 Three Pines series

Last week on Bookfan:

A Quilt for Christmas (Oct14)  texts from Jane Eyre (Nov4)  The Heart of Christmas (Oct28)

Currently reading:

The Divorce Diet (Dec30)

IMG_3812

My daughter and her dog Gordon came over last week to decorate the Christmas tree.

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak

  • The Heart of Christmas (Oct28)Title:  The Heart of Christmas
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #7
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Just call her Christmas Eve…  Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. 

Eve’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There’s no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!  (publisher)

My take:  The Heart of Christmas is one of those books that’s almost impossible to stop reading – at least it was for me! It’s book 7 in the Whiskey Creek series but it can stand alone.

The Heart of Christmas is filled with romance, suspense and a mystery. I loved the story of Eve and her handsome stranger. I couldn’t imagine how Brenda Novak would find a way to happiness for these two but I think she really hit this one out of the park (no spoilers here).

I can’t wait to see what she dreams up next for the group of friends in Whiskey Creek. Recommended to fans of the series and anyone who enjoys a good story.

Note:  Several weeks ago I happened to see a tweet from Brenda Novak telling readers that a characters from her book INSIDE would be one of the featured characters in The Heart of Christmas. Many readers requested his story going forward from INSIDE. You don’t have to read INSIDE but I did and learned a lot of background on the character. That said, Novak does a great job informing readers of his background in The Heart of Christmas.

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

  • texts from Jane Eyre (Nov4)Title:  Texts From Jane Eyre and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
  • Author:  Mallory Ortberg
  • Genre:  Humor
  • Published:  November 2014 – Henry Holt
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Edgar Allan Poe to Katniss Everdeen.

Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.  (publisher)

My brief take:  Holiday gift alert! This could be the perfect choice for the literature buff on your holiday gift list. The text messages run from the classics to modern literature to The Babysitters Club.

One text conversation that made me giggle was from two characters from The Outsiders trying to figure out how to pronounce “soc”. Some texts went right over my head because I hadn’t read the original book. Rest assured, there’s a little something for every reader in Texts From Jane Eyre.

This is one of those books that can be read a little at a time – in fact, I’d recommend it. Put it in your guest room for a little unexpected entertainment for your guests. I guarantee it will start some fun conversations.

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

  • A Quilt for Christmas (Oct14)Title:  A Quilt for Christmas
  • Author:  Sandra Dallas
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  It is 1864, and Eliza Spooner’s husband Will has joined the Kansas volunteers to fight the Confederates, leaving her with their two children and in charge of their home and land.  Eliza is confident that Will will return home, and she helps pass the months making a special quilt to keep her husband warm during his winter months in the army.  When the unthinkable happens, she takes in a woman and child who have been left alone and made vulnerable by the war, and she finds solace and camaraderie amongst the women of her quilting group. But when she is asked to help hide an escaped slave, she must decide for herself what is right and who she can count on to help her.  (publisher)

My take:  If you are a fan of Sandra Dallas’s The Persian Pickle Club you’ll be pleased to know that the characters in Eliza’s quilting group are grandmothers of the Persian Pickle Club ladies. I haven’t read The Persian Pickle Club but I’m certainly tempted to now that I’ve read A Quilt for Christmas.

Sandra Dallas had me riveted to her story. My Great(3x) Grandfather Stephen came to the US from Ireland, settled in Wisconsin and fought for the Union in the Civil War.  More than once while reading A Quilt for Christmas I found myself wondering how Stephen’s wife Ellen (also from Ireland) survived on their farm without her husband. In Dallas’s story Eliza has a tough time in so many ways even though her teenage son and some friends helped out. Eliza had an inner strength that carried her through so many situations.

This book could be read straight through in a day or two or it could be read a chapter a day. I’m really glad I read it and would recommend it to fans of Civil War historical fiction and fans of Sandra Dallas.

Yours For Christmas by Susan Mallery

  • yours for christmasTitle:  Yours For Christmas
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #15.5
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Famous former NFL stars don’t date single working moms like Bailey Voss. She’ll allow herself to daydream about Kenny Scott’s muscles and killer smile, but wanting more would lead to post-holiday regret. Then Kenny volunteers to run a toy drive with Bailey, and she learns that he’s not just hot he’s also generous, funny, nice. The whole package tantalizingly out of reach.

The ache of past loss reminds Kenny why he needs to avoid getting too close to anyone. Especially to a gorgeous redhead and her adorable little girl. Mess it up, and he’d lose them both. Yet Kenny can only resist Bailey for so long. And as festive spirit spreads throughout the town, he’s all wrapped up in Bailey’s sweet, sexy kisses and determined to make this the first of many Christmases together.  (publisher)

My take:  Yours For Christmas is a novella featuring two characters that fans of the Fool’s Gold series have come to love. We learn that Kenny has issues stemming from an emotional event years earlier that prevent him from wanting to become involved with Bailey. Bailey is a widow with a seven year old daughter and they both have a huge crush on Kenny. Bailey wants to provide a safe and normal life for her daughter but she doesn’t want her to get too close to Kenny if there’s a chance he’ll leave – becoming yet another loss for the little girl.

Susan Mallery filled her novella with a lot of heart-tugging emotion but the title reminded me that things would most likely work out for Kenny and Bailey. I enjoyed reading how it all came about and recommend this novella to fans of the Fool’s Gold series.