Everything’s Relative by Jenna McCarthy

  • image003Title:  Everything’s Relative: A Novel
  • Author:  Jenna McCarthy
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  February 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jules, Brooke and Lexi were young girls (12, 8 and 6 respectively) when their father died suddenly leaving them and their mother devastated. Jules took on family responsibilities well above her age level doing what her mother could no longer do. Brooke became the family peace-maker/fixer. Lexi thumbed her nose at everyone. The three girls took these characteristics with them into adulthood. When their mom died twenty years after their dad she left an unexpected inheritance for the three sisters. In order to collect the inheritance they would have to meet specific conditions and they all had to do so or none of them would receive their due.

Jenna McCarthy’s story of sisters drew me in from page one and had me turning the pages quickly. The chapters are short and each is from a different sister’s perspective. I loved seeing the changes in each character and pulled for all three as they tried to accomplish their assignments.

Everything’s Relative is a thoroughly entertaining novel that by turn tugged a few heartstrings and made me laugh out loud. Recommended to fans of contemporary humorous fiction about dysfunctional families.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley


About:  Set over the course of one life-changing Thanksgiving week, THE RAMBLERS is a sumptuous, accomplished novel about loss, hope, passion and the strength of the human spirit. Native New Yorker Aidan Donnelley Rowley has written a love letter to New York City—its glittering moments and the magic and wonder that are waiting to be discovered in some of its secret corners.

Clio Marsh, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History, has found solace from her broken childhood by studying the ways in which hummingbirds adapt to harsh environments. The Ramble in Central Park is the only place in Manhattan that has truly ever felt like home in the city, and she’s dedicated to introducing other New Yorkers to the beauties of the natural world on her popular bird-watching walks there. But then Clio meets someone and the solitary world she’s carefully constructed threatens to crumble as she struggles to come to terms with her past.

Smith Anderson has been Clio’s best friend since their first days as undergraduates at Yale, when a painful secret bound them together. As a professional organizer to wealthy Manhattanites, Smith’s career is centered on order and peace, but her own life has been falling apart ever since her fiancé mysteriously called off their engagement and quickly married another woman. Now, with her younger sister’s wedding just days away, Smith is spiraling out of control, grasping for answers from her family and from herself.

Tate Pennington, an aspiring photographer, is going through a bitter divorce. Though the iPhone app he created on a whim made him a millionaire nearly overnight, his failed marriage has left him reeling and he’s returned to New York for a fresh start. But Tate finds himself desperate for a real connection and wonders if he’ll have a sense of truly belonging somewhere, with someone, again.

As the emotional chaos of their lives unfolds, Clio, Smith and Tate must learn to let go of the past in order to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds.

My take:  I found this story about three thirty-somethings looking for contentment in their messy lives quite addictive. Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s prose is engaging and had me at times sympathizing with the characters despite some of their first world problems.

Clio, Smith and Tate learn to trust themselves and the person(s) most close to them. They also learn what to strive for – what’s truly important going forward. Issues of mental illness, meeting external expectations, and finding independence are all addressed.

I especially appreciated the tone the novel ended on and will look for more from this new-to-me author. Recommended to fans of Contemporary Fiction.

Praise for The Ramblers:

“In this spirited, compulsively-readable, sophisticated tale of entangled urban lives, Aidan Donnelley Rowley has written a love letter to New York, full of sparkling innocence and its ensuing heartache. The Ramblers is a pure delight.” —Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Devotion

“A wonderfully woven story of how family can hold us back or set us free. The richly drawn characters in The Ramblers remind the reader that we sometimes fear the things we most want. It’s not often that a book embeds you so deeply with the characters that you feel as if you are in their story. Rowley’s finely drawn story of love, loss, fear and friendship wound me around its little finger…”   —Lee Woodruff, New York Times bestselling author of Those We Love Most

The Ramblers is an engrossing, meticulously observed novel of New York. Aidan Donnelley Rowley explores the lives of characters navigating the challenges of friendship, jealousy, love and the need to confront their past before they can create a future.” —Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Chock full of the crackling wit, irreverent humor and raw honesty that readers have come to expect from Aidan Donnelley Rowley, this is a tale of beautiful people in glamorous places when life is anything but beautiful and glamorous. A whirlwind foray into the New York City that Aidan Donnelley Rowley knows and loves— and writes—so well.” —Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress

“Amidst the rich beauty of Central Park in fall and Manhattan in its prime, The Ramblers weaves a bewitching, wise tale of how love’s path may take unexpected twists and turns. Aidan Donnelley Rowley has brought us a deeply moving and elegant book about how we find ourselves and each other. It pulled me in with its first pages, and wouldn’t let go until the last.” —Sophie McManus, author of The Unfortunates

“Witty and engaging, The Ramblers takes us deep into the cloistered world of three New Yorkers, where privilege does not necessarily lead to happiness. Aidan Donnelley Rowley is an expert at revealing her characters with depth and care.” —Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing


AidanDonnelleyRowley_AuthorPhoto_creditElenaSeibertBorn and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University.  She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hour Literary Salon.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.

The Ramblers:

  • On Sale: February 9, 2016
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062413314 / Price: $25.99
  • Ebook ISBN: 9780062413338 / Price: $12.99

Author photo credit: Elena Seibert 

US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends Feb. 18, 2016 at 9am EST





Nookietown by V.C. Chickering

  • Nookietown (2:23) St. Martin's GriffinTitle:  Nookietown: A Novel
  • Author:  V.C. Chickering
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Pub. Date:  February 23, 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  When 40-something, divorced, mom-of-one Lucy meets with a group of friends for their regular dinner out she finds that she’s not the only one frustrated with her (lack of) sex life. The women come up with a possible plan that eventually is put into practice.

I’m not going to reveal any more of the plot. Check out Goodreads for more information. At first I thought it was ridiculous (in this age of STDs, etc) and was ready to DNF but I decided to keep going because I’d agreed to feature it here on the blog. Honestly, Chickering’s writing is engaging and her characters’ actions had me equally cringing and laughing. Issues addressed include friendship, married/divorced sex, desire, infidelity – just to list a few.

Nookietown has been optioned for television and I could envision it playing out on-screen. That said, it would have to be on cable unless it goes through extreme editing. There are explicit scenes. There are also some deeply emotional scenes that would make for great book club discussion if members felt comfortable discussing very personal details.

I’m glad I finished reading the book and would read more from Chickering. I’ll be interested in what she comes up with next. Recommended to fans of entertaining and steamy beach reads.

About the author:  V.C. Chickering has written for Comedy Central, MTV, Lifetime, TLC, Discovery, NickMom and Oxygen television networks as well as for BUST, Cosmo, and The Washington Post magazines. She’s written screenplays; has a local newspaper column entitled Pith Monger; and random other gigs, which can be found on vcchickering.com

She lives in New Jersey with her family where she also writes and performs witty, original songs for the alt-bluegrass/indi-jazz band, Tori Erstwhile & The Montys. This is her first novel.

Sunday Post

My mailbox was full last week after a few sparse weeks.

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

The Promise of Forgiveness (3:2)  The Winemakers (4:5)  Lone Heart Pass (4:26)

sunshine beach (6:21) Berkley   image003   image001-2

Last week on Bookfan:

Carolina Dreaming (2:2) Berkley   Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)   Every Anxious Wave (2:9)

Currently reading:

Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

Every Anxious Wave (2:9)


Guest Post by Jodi Thomas, author of Rustler’s Moon

Today I welcome author Jodi Thomas to Bookfan. Her newest book in the Ransom Canyon series published last week. Click here to read my review.

Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)

The setting for RUSTLER’S MOON is a ranch called the Devil’s Fork and a museum set on the edge of Ransom Canyon.  Since I grew up going to the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, it was easy to build a museum in my mind.

I had one character, Carter, who really brought my museum and the canyon alive in my story.  In this second book of the RANSOM CANYON Series called RUSTLER’S MOON I wanted to add a mystery whispering through my story.

Carter’s long retired and comes to Crossroads, Texas, every summer to walk the canyon and search for a childhood memory.  One rainy night when Carter was five, he and his father found a cave that had drawings of stickmen on the walls.  Carter believes that if he’d fallen asleep they would have killed him.  The stickmen haunt him through Vietnam and in his nightmares for years.  He thinks he has to find them before he dies.

Angela Harold is running for her life after her father is killed.  She has no family she can trust and no close friends she wants involved.  Applying for a job as a curator for a small museum in Crossroads, Texas seems her only way out.  It was great fun bringing someone to Texas for the first time.  Angela is surprised how fast the whole community takes her in as one of their own. I loved the way this story wound around Angela’s mystery and the surprises Carter finds not only in the canyon, but within himself.

I love writing about the people in this place and Texas is my home.  I like watching how peoples’ lives bump into others and change their courses ever so slightly.

Come along with me to the adventure in RUSTLER’S MOON.  You might just fall in love again for the first time.

Jodi Thomas


On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love.

If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harrell to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path.

With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything.

Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.

RUSTLER’S MOON by JODI THOMAS $7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN. ISBN­13 9780373788620

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart­wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

  • Carolina Dreaming (2:2) BerkleyTitle:  Carolina Dreaming
  • Author:  Virginia Kantra
  • Series:  Dare Island #5
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  February 2, 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Description:  When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—especially in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.   

After escaping a disastrous marriage, bakery owner Jane Clark has convinced herself that she has everything she needs—her precious son, a thriving business, and a roof over her head. But the arrival of a handsome stranger on the island shows her exactly what she’s been missing…   

The only home Gabe Murphy ever had was the Marine Corps. He’s working hard to rebuild his life. It will take a special place, and a special woman, to make him want to stay.   

Now Gabe is determined to prove that he’s worthy of Jane’s trust—and her love. But when her past reappears, that trust will be tested, and Jane and Gabe will have to fight hard to hold onto their love and make their dreams a reality…  (publisher)

My take:  Carolina Dreaming is the fifth book in the Dare Island series. The first three novels involved the three adult children of the Fletcher family. Books four and five are about people in the small island community who have ties to the Fletchers. I liked that the Fletcher family played more than minor roles in Carolina Dreaming.

We got to know Jane a bit in the fourth book, Carolina Blues. She survived an abusive first marriage and several years later is still learning how to get control of her life. She has a seven-year old son and they live with her father. She’s determined to be a strong woman and be the mother to her son that she lacked after her own mother walked away from the family.

Gabe survived a horrible upbringing and then survived Afghanistan. After his discharge he got in trouble with the law somewhere else and needs to start over where almost no one knows him. He was in the Marines with Luke Fletcher who once brought him home to Dare Island after basic training and before going to Afghanistan. He hopes the people who so generously welcomed him at that time will be happy to see him again.

I liked Gabe and Jane’s story. They share so much in common and yet find it so difficult to trust themselves or anyone. Both have been burned in life by people who should have loved them unconditionally. Virginia Kantra’s story is believable and relatable. I especially loved the story of Jane’s son finding commonality with Gabe. It tugged the heartstrings.

Recommended to fans of the author, the Dare Island series and stories about people learning to trust their hearts.

Rustler’s Moon by Jodi Thomas

  • Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)Title:  Rustler’s Moon
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #2
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  January 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

About:  On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love. 
If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harold to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path. 
With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything. 
Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.  (publisher)

My take:  Angela, Wilkes and Lauren may find themselves at a crossroads but so do a few other characters in Rustler’s Moon.

As usual, Jodi Thomas’ newest Ransom Canyon book is filled with drama, mystery and romance. Will Angela be able to escape her past and build a future she never dreamed would be hers? If so, how will Wilkes figure into it? Lauren is finally at college but why doesn’t freedom feel as good as she thought it would? And what’s the deal with: A) her roomie; B) her best friend; and C)Lucas, her love?

One of the things I love about a Jodi Thomas novel is the multi-generational aspect. In this book a man is trying to find a place in the canyon that has haunted him most of his 70+ years. A few friends join him in his search which had me laughing or feeling sad for him at different times.

I enjoyed all the storylines and look forward to seeing arcs continue in future books. I recommend Rustler’s Moon to fans of Jodi Thomas and contemporary/small town romance.

Sunday Post

Wishing everyone on the East Coast the best – including my little sis who is in NYC celebrating her birthday this weekend. Stay safe and warm, all!

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Once a Rancher (3:29)  Britt-Marie Was Here (5:10)

Last week on Bookfan:

Midnight in St. Petersburg (1:19) spotlight   Cover.Final-2

Currently reading:

Winter Street (kindle)


The Lie And The Lady by Kate Noble

  • Cover.Final-2Title:  The Lie and the Lady
  • Author:  Kate Noble
  • Series:  Winner Takes All #2
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  December 2015 – Pocket Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  John Turner thought only of winning a bet when he swapped identities with his friend the Earl of Ashby. He didn’t wager on winning the fiery Countess of Churzy’s heart with his lies, or on falling for her in return. Publicly humiliated when she learned of the betrayal, the impoverished countess fled, and John thought Leticia was lost to him forever…until fate brings her practically to his doorstep. Can he regain her trust—and her heart—this time as himself?

Determined to make a new life for herself, Letty knows she must avoid Turner—and his maddening kisses—in order to survive. But some things are too intoxicating to be denied. If she turns her back on her dashing rogue—again—will she lose her chance at love forever? (back of the book)

My take:  Lady Churzy was betrayed by Mr. Turner in a very public way that left her whispered about wherever she went. She couldn’t outrun the lie that scandalized the ton. That didn’t stop her from looking for a new life and security. When she met Sir Barty in Paris she thought she’d finally found the life she was looking for – the life she needed.

John Turner made a big mistake but he thought he could correct it so he kept looking for Letty (Lady Churzy). When he found her practically in his own back yard he couldn’t believe his good luck. But that feeling didn’t last long. Would he ever be able to convince her to trust him?

The plight of an unmarried woman without means at that time was at the forefront of the novel and I had sympathy for Letty for that reason. But to accomplish her goal she had to be calculating so she risked hurting people very close to her. I just knew that wouldn’t end well for most of them. I wasn’t sure how Letty and John would find their HEA but I soon knew the author would get them there.

The character that charmed me the most was Lady Margaret, the nineteen year old daughter of Sir Barty. She was quite introverted and chose to spend the majority of her time in the gardens and greenhouse. Margaret was beginning to evolve in the late pages of the novel and I hope we’ll see more of her at another time.

The Lie and the Lady was entertaining, a bit melodramatic, and, in some spots, laugh out loud funny. I enjoyed the main characters and the supporting ones – townspeople, servants, and such. Noble’s descriptions made it easy to envision the various settings and characters. This is the first of her books I’ve had the chance to read and I look forward to more in the future.

Recommended to fans of Kate Noble and Historical Romance.

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Midnight in St. Petersburg by Vanora Bennett

Midnight in St. Petersburg (1:19) spotlight

About the book:  Faberge jewels, the mysterious Rasputin, and a priceless violin: Each plays a part in one young woman’s fight for survival, and for love, in revolutionary Russia.

St. Petersburg, 1911. Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia’s capital. Welcomed by the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop. She feels instantly at home in their bohemian circle, but revolution is in the air, and as society begins to fracture, she is forced to choose between her heart and her head.

She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive, and devoted to revolution. Horace Wallick, an Englishman who makes precious Faberge creations, is older and promises security and respectability. And, like many others, she is drawn to the mysterious, charismatic figure beginning to make a name for himself in the city: Rasputin.

As the rebellion descends into anarchy and bloodshed, a commission to repair a priceless Stadivarius violin offers Inna a means of escape. But what man will she choose to take with her? And is it already too late?

A magical and passionate story steeped in history and intrigue, Midnight in St. Petersburg is an extraordinary novel of music, politics, and the toll that revolution exacts on the human heart.

About the author:  Vanora Bennett studied Russian at Oxford University and in the USSR. She began her career as a journalist at Reuters and went on to serve as the Moscow correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, winning a U.S. Overseas Press Club award for her writing on Russia. She now lives in Britain and has won the Orwell Prize for political writing for her work at The Times. She is the author of four novels, including Portrait of an Unknown Woman, and two books of non-fiction.

Praise for Midnight in St. Petersburg:

“Compelling, heartbreaking, passionate.” – Simon Sebag Montefiore

“A tale of thundering passions set in the Russian Revolution…Historical fiction at its best.” – Kate Saunders, The Times

“A rich gorgeous broth of passion and danger…I was swept away by the meticulous set-dressing, epic plot and unashamed romanticism.” – Saga Magazine

“Bennett’s sophisticated grasp of historical realities and psychological complexity gives power and depth to what might easily have been a clichéd romance.” – Sunday Times

US Giveaway

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Midnight in St. Petersburg (1:19) spotlight

Giveaway ends: January 27, 2016




Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Forgotten Room

the forgotten room


Set in New York City in alternating time periods, THE FORGOTTEN ROOM is a compelling web of secrets waiting to be untangled. This beautifully wrought story is told from the perspectives of three generations of women—Olive Van Alan (1892), Lucy Young (1920), and Dr. Kate Schuyler (1944)—connected to one extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion on Manhattan’s 69th Street.

As the stunning connections between the women unfold, readers will race through the pages to discover the threads that tie them together.  Why does the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature from the 1890s look so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In her search for answers, Kate finds herself drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alan, driven from riches to rags, working as a servant in the very house her father designed; and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she never knew.

About the Authors:

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between, among other novels.

Beatriz Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, and Overseas.

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of The Lure of the MoonflowerThat Summer, and The Other Daughter, among other novels.

All 3 authors photo

US Giveaway


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