All The Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • all the single ladiesTitle:  All the Single Ladies: A novel
  • Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.  (publisher)

My take:  I love how Dorothea Benton Frank tells a story. I’ve read a handful of her books and am so happy there are so many more to read. She makes me laugh as well as sympathize with her characters’ dilemmas.

The ladies of ALL THE SINGLE LADIES are of a certain age (40s and 50s) and seem to be happy (or maybe resigned to) where life has taken them. At any rate, they’re used to being single and fending for themselves. When the friend who brought them all together dies and leaves her estate to one of the women they are faced with a mystery. As they try to figure things out life brings new people into their lives. The supporting characters are, for the most part, completely charming. They add to the warmth, tension, and emotion of the novel.

The ladies find that true friends will get you through just about anything life throws at you. And a sense of humor and an open heart make the road easier.

I loved the novel and look forward to the author’s next book. I also listened (used an audible credit so I could listen when I walked). The narration by Robin Miles was so enjoyable. Her performance enhanced the book for me.

#FitReaders Weekly Check-in


#FitReaders is hosted by  Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  and That’s What I’m Talking About.

I went to the Wisconsin State Fair last Saturday with my two daughters, their husbands and one grandchild. We had a fun time and I got lots of steps but I was exhausted by the end of the day!


One of the crowded streets at the Fair

Fitbit steps:

  • Fri:    12756
  • Sat:    15505
  • Sun:    3685
  • Mon:  12211
  • Tue:   10389
  • Wed:  11670
  • Thu:     6811

Read on the treadmill:

the bourbon kings (7:28)   Nantucket (8:25)

Pretty Much Screwed by Jenna McCarthy

  • pretty much screwed (7:7)Title:  Pretty Much Screwed:  A Novel
  • Author:  Jenna McCarthy
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2015 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Charlotte Crawford’s husband of twenty years took her out for a nice dinner and told her he wanted a divorce. If that wasn’t bad enough he also told her there was no one else – he just didn’t want to be married to her anymore.

Charlotte’s best friend went through a divorce a year earlier so she knew how hard it would be. When the legal issues were finalized Charlotte had to start living again. She found that being single and dating was a different game than twenty years ago. Jenna McCarthy had me laughing as I read about Charlotte navigating 21st century dating via social media, texting, etc. She really met some winners.

While I liked a lot of this novel I had difficulty believing some of the decisions Charlotte made. That said, I really liked Charlotte’s best friend Lizzy as well as a certain chef named Jesse. I thought the novel wrapped up a bit too neatly but that aspect, along with McCarthy’s gift for telling an entertaining story, made Pretty Much Screwed a perfect beach read.

Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

  • rome in love (8:4)Title:  Rome in Love: A Novel
  • Author:  Anita Hughes
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  August 2015 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful, Italian city of Rome for the next two months. 

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble. 

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she’s always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?

With her sensory descriptions of the beautiful sites, decadent food, and high fashion of Rome, Hughes draws readers into this fast-paced and superbly written novel. Rome in Love will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.  (publisher)

My take:  Rome in Love is the story of Amelia, an American actress in her first role and Phillip, an American writer trying to make it on his own instead of taking a boring job in his family’s Wall Street business.

With her detailed descriptions of setting, fashion, and characters Anita Hughes made me feel like I was watching a movie.  My one quibble was the feeling that the intimate scenes between the main characters seemed to have no chemistry – as if they were inserted as an afterthought. I’d rather they’d been alluded to because they seemed oddly detached from the overall tone of the novel.

Despite my quibble I enjoyed the basic story and the parallel Audrey Hepburn storyline. I also liked the secondary characters. Phillip’s photographer friend and Amelia’s new friend, Princess Sophie added comic relief.

If you’re a fan of the film Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn, and the Rome setting you’ll probably enjoy Rome in Love. It’s a breezy, romantic tale perfect for the beach.

#FitReaders Weekly Check-in


#FitReaders is hosted by  Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  and That’s What I’m Talking About.

We had gorgeous weather the past week so it was nice to get some outside walks. I took it easy on Friday and we went to a wedding on Saturday – fun but not as many steps as I would have liked. I’m writing this on Thursday and it looks like I might not reach 10K but that’s ok :) Wishing you all a relaxing weekend!

Fitbit steps:

  • Fri:      6480
  • Sat:      6592
  • Sun:   10517
  • Mon: 10406
  • Tue:   13205
  • Wed:  11827
  • Thu:     7750

Read on the treadmill:

the secret sister (7:28)  the summertime girls (8:4)

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

the art of baking blind (5:5)


There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved. 

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There’s Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife’s death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it’s like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn’t slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants’ problems. For they will learn–as Mrs. Eaden did before them–that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it’s very much harder in life.

About the Author:

SARAH VAUGHAN studied English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After eleven years working at theGuardian as a news reporter, health correspondent, and political correspondent, she started freelancing. She currently lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children. THE ART OF BAKING BLIND is her first novel.


Warm, wise and inspiring, an utterly delicious novel.” – Polly Williams, author of The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy

Clever and compelling. I loved this!” – Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

Vaughan pens an ambitious story told from multiple points of view…the story is quite engaging and the perfect fit for a book club.” Romantic Times 


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the art of baking blind (5:5)

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • the secret sister (7:28)Title:  The Secret Sister
  • Series:  Fairham Island #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Mystery
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why? 

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago. 

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk… 

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister. 

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?  (publisher)

My take:  It’s alway fun to get in on the first book in a series when it first publishes. 

I loved the gothic tone of The Secret Sister. There’s the rich family with the cold, detached matriarch, the mansion on the hill, and the mystery that no one wants to talk about. Youngest daughter Maisey is determined to find out what happened to (what appears to be) her older sister.  Her brother Keith has been blamed for her disappearance and that has affected his life to the point that he finds his only relief in drugs. He doesn’t think he can handle having it all dredged up again so he’s not thrilled that Maisey is asking questions.

Thank goodness Maisey has Rafe and his young daughter to help keep her sane. They knew each other briefly when they were younger. Now, more than ten years later, life has given them both new perspective and they appreciate their possible second chance. Rafe wants to help Maisey find out what happened to the girl in the photographs. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved the interactions between Maisey and Laney, Rafe’s daughter.

I was satisfied (and a little surprised) with how the mystery was solved. If you like a contemporary romance wrapped around a mystery I think you’ll enjoy The Secret Sister. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next book in the Fairham Island series.

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

  • If I Could Turn Back Time (7:28)Title:  If I Could Turn Back Time: A Novel
  • Author:  Beth Harbison
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2015 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  When thirty-eight year old Ramie Phillips does a champagne-fueled cart-wheel off a yacht she hits her head and ends up in a coma. She doesn’t know she’s in a coma. No, she’s landed back in Potomac, Maryland and she’s in the last week of high school.

Ramie’s aware that she’s not eighteen but she can’t figure out what’s going on and how she got in her eighteen year old body. When she has a chance to talk to her father again she decides to take advantage of the opportunity and soak up all the wisdom he has to offer. She also gets a second chance with her high school boyfriend, Brendan.

I liked this poignant story of finding out what one really wants in life. It’s a story of self-discovery for Ramie but also a story about the importance of living in the moment and never taking anything for granted. My favorite parts of the novel were Ramie’s heart-to-heart conversations with her dad. They had such a warm relationship and easy way of talking to each other. I also liked that she gained new perspective of her teenage life knowing what she did from her future self.

Recommended to anyone who likes a “what if things had gone differently” story. This is the second book by Harbison I’ve read and I look forward to reading another from her backlist.

Harbison, Beth_ChandlerSchwedeAbout the author:

BETH HARBISON is The New York Times bestselling author of Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong FingerWhen In Doubt, Add ButterAlways Something There To Remind MeThin, Rich, PrettyHope In A Jar;Secrets of a Shoe Addict; and Shoe Addicts Anonymous. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., and now shares her time between that suburb, New York City, and a quiet home on the eastern shore.


#FitReaders Weekly Check-in


#FitReaders is hosted by  Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  and That’s What I’m Talking About.

I’m feeling much better and back to my normal walking. Thanks for all the good wishes the past few weeks.

Fitbit steps:

  • Fri:   10121
  • Sat:    4478  (family reunion – lots of sitting and visiting)
  • Sun:   3574  (travelled home from the reunion)
  • Mon: 13664
  • Tue:   12993
  • Wed:  11700
  • Thu:   10573

Read on the treadmill (kindle) or outdoors (audio):

all the single ladies   letters to the lost (may'15)

A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts

  • A Wedding on Primrose Street (7:28)Title:  A Wedding on Primrose Street
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #7
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  There’s nothing like a wedding! The joy, the fun, the memories—the stress. As a wedding planner, Anne Richardson has seen mothers of the bride turn into Momzillas, and she’s determined not to do that when it’s her daughter’s turn to get married. But once Laney gets engaged, all bets are off. Anne becomes obsessed with giving Laney the perfect wedding she herself never had. And that wedding needs to be held in Icicle Falls at Primrose Haus, the perfect setting. 

Roberta Gilbert, owner of Primrose Haus, has been hosting events at her charming Victorian for thirty years. She’s an expert on weddings, but not on mother-daughter relations. When her daughter, Daphne, comes home and decides to help with the business, the receptions become truly memorable—and not in a good way. Then there’s the added complication of Roberta’s gardener, who seems more interested in Daphne than he is in planting primroses… 

Tying the knot is a business that has everyone tied up in knots!  (publisher)

My take:  Our daughter was married a few months ago so I knew I wanted to read the newest book in the Icicle Falls series: A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts.

I thought Roberts nailed the dynamics that can arise between mothers and daughters, event planners and mothers-of-the-bride, and husbands and wives when planning a wedding. In her typical style Roberts had me alternately laughing and cringing as the events drew near. What I liked most was how, when they stopped to take a breath, the characters tried their hardest to remember what was most important about the happy day and the people involved.

There are several bridal shower and wedding recipes included at the end as well as a fun epilogue of sorts. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next Icicle Falls book.


The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

  • the coincidence of coconut cake (July21)Title:  The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
  • Author:  Amy E. Reichert
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2015 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  What happens when the chef of a small restaurant is scathingly reviewed by the local newspaper’s food critic on one of the worst days of her life? And then what happens when the two meet after that but don’t know who the other is?

I found The Coincidence of Coconut Cake to be a charming story that fans of chick lit and foodie fiction will probably enjoy as much as I did. Being from Wisconsin I also enjoyed the Milwaukee spots that Amy E. Reichert described in detail. Yes, I’m a fan of squeaky cheese :)

Reichert’s characters are relatable and I bought the misunderstanding between the two principal characters. Their relationship developed slowly and I was invested in their story. There are interesting and sweet supporting characters that added to the emotional aspect of the novel.

I’m craving all kinds of comfort food after reading this novel. It began with the luscious cake on the cover and progressed from there. Recommended.



Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

moonlight on butternut lake #3   a window opens (8:25)   silver linings (8:11)

Last week on Bookfan:

a thousand miles to freedom cover   the marriage season

Currently reading:

letters to the lost (may'15)

The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller

  • the marriage seasonTitle:  The Marriage Season
  • Series:  The Brides of Bliss County #3
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2015 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Will the marriage pact be fulfilled? Return to Mustang Creek, Wyoming, with #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller for more Brides of Bliss County! 

Since Hadleigh, Melody and Bex—the best of best friends—entered into a marriage pact, two of them have found (and married) the men of their hearts. But Bex doesn’t think she’ll be as fortunate as the others. Her own first love died years ago in a faraway war, and Bex has lost hope for a happy marriage of her own. She concentrates on her business, a successful chain of fitness clubs, instead. 

Then, when single father Tate Calder comes to Mustang Creek with his two sons in tow, who befriend Bex’s eight-year-old nephew, she and the handsome, aloof newcomer are constantly thrown together. But is the marriage season over? Or can a man with doubts about love be the right husband for a woman who wants it all?  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of two people who need to learn to love again. Bex’s fiancé was killed at war years earlier and Tate’s first wife died unexpectedly from an illness leaving him with two young sons.

Bex is the third of three friends who made a pact to find their true loves. One of the friends, a jewelry maker, made them each a bracelet with a charm that would bring luck to the woman who wears it. Two of the friends have found their love and now it’s time for Bex.

I thought The Marriage Season was a sweet story. I liked the family theme and selflessness of the two principal characters. All in all, a very satisfying addition to the Brides of Bliss County series. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance.