A Summer to Remember #SueMoorcroft #PublicationDay

Happy Publication Day to Sue Moorcroft. Join us by the sea as we enjoy A Summer to Remember! 

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I discovered Sue Moorcroft over the holidays with her marvelous story, A Christmas Gift which really touched my heart. When I saw her newest book, A Summer to Remember, I could not wait to read it. Actually, at the time I got it, the book was simply titled  “New Book by Sue Moorcroft”  but I knew that regardless I would love it – and I did!

Clancy has had the worst of all luck – her fiancé has dumped her for his former lover which left Clancy homeless and also jobless since she, her fiancé and their best friends all worked at a start-up that they built from the ground up. Somehow, it became Clancy who was the odd man out of the equation but, because she was the financial wiz of the group, at least she walked away with resources. Her cousin, Alice, was part owner of seaside inn in need of a caretaker so Clancy packs up her things and without much thought, she heads off to Nelson’s Bar, an inlet on the sea not a place to drink, and sets up shop on a tiny piece of land where everyone knows one another, is not fond of her cousin Alice, there is no cell reception and where Alice’s ex-fiancé lives along with his brother, Adam, who is the co-owner of the inn. A lot of exes in this story but it works. Trust me, it isn’t nearly as confusing as I just made it sound. Naturally there is an on-again, off-again romance between Clancy and Adam but there is much conflict and baggage that it seems that the two of them are not to be together.

What I found most intriguing about A Summer to Remember, is the aspect that I enjoy in all of Moorcroft’s books – the value and realism of her characters. Each of them, from the main characters to the secondary ones, are very vivid and real. They are extremely flawed just as we all are. They are bad tempered, sometimes rude, some very prejudiced, all of whom are growing and changing throughout the book. There is a pair of young men in this book whose secondary storyline was so poignant and brilliantly told that, for me, they became a very integral part of the story itself. I came to care for those two lads quite a lot. When talking with Ms. Moorcroft about the book she told me a bit about the research that she did regarding these two young men and their story and what I learned made their characters even more meaningful. I would encourage you to read A Summer to Remember just for these two fellows and their story alone. Except that I loved every single person in the book, even the snippy older townspeople who were far too opinionated for me and reminded me of some of my own neighbors.

I absolutely loved A Summer to Remember. It’s a marvelous summer read, a fabulous women’s lit book and a great general fiction tale. I highly recommend it! And now, of course, I have to sit it here and anxiously wait for her next book. <sigh> You will find me in the “M” section of the bookstore.

Thank you to #Netgalley, @SueMoorcroft, and @AvonBooksUK for my copy of my new favorite book. You can find it on sale today at amazon

 

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Two for Tuesday Part Two: Bridesmaids by @ZaraStoneley

cover152396-mediumA wedding you’ll never forget and a Rom-Com you won’t want to miss, Bridesmaids is the must-read, hilarious book for this summer! 

 

I fell in love with Zara Stoneley over the holidays with her fabulous book, No One Cancels Christmas, and had a feeling that I would really like her newest book, Bridesmaids. I was absolutely right, except I had no idea how much I would enjoy this delightful story and the characters involved – including the precious kitty who will steal your heart!

There are four school mates, four friends and four members of the bridal party and lots and lots of secrets. Not all of the school mates are friends with each others. Not all of them are privy to each other’s secrets and not all of them are happy for the bride to be. Now they have all come together for the hen party and wedding and what a wedding this one will turn out to be!

Jane is our protagonist around whom most of the secrets flow. Not everyone likes Jane, but it appears that everyone talks to her, although what she hears is not always what is true. Sometimes Jane interprets things according to her own conflicted past. Rachel is the bride to be and so happy that she is oblivious to much of what is swirling around her: a fiancé who has secrets of his own, Jane who is struggling after her own failed engagement, and two bridesmaids who cannot stand to be in the same room at the same time. They are Maddie and Sally – one is married to the other’s old boyfriend and the other never gave up hope of rekindling that flame. And then there is Beth – the outlier, single, new mom whose secret makes all other secrets look like child’s play. Welcome to the wedding! Enjoy the ride!

When British Rom-Coms are done well, they are witty, smart, sharp and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Bridesmaids is all of that and more! I, quite literally, found myself laughing so hard  at Jane and her friends, crying at times and then cheering for them at the end in a way that I seldom do for women’s fiction or “chick lit.” Zara Stoneley writes her books in such a way that each character has a very vivid personality and is relatable to someone that you know or have known in your life. You find yourself saying “oh yeah, I completely understand,” right along with the characters in the book. They are very real people while you are reading along with them. More importantly, though, Stoneley creates a story that is more than humorous. All of these characters are going through very complex issues in their lives from broken engagements to job insecurity to single parenthood and broken dreams. We watch as they slowly grow, come to subtle realizations about the next steps in their lives and become stronger as women – and men – so that by the end of the book you are as happy as they are with the way things turned out for their lives. It does have a happy ending although, wow, I wasn’t sure we ever would get these gals to that point!

If you loved Stoneley’s holiday tale or are looking for a delightful, heart-warming summer read, then this is the perfect choice for you. I absolutely adored it!

Thanks so much to #Netgalley, @HarperImpulse and #ZaraStoneley for my copy of #Bridesmaids. amazon

 

Lying Next to Me @Gregg_Olsen

 

Murder monday with textcover159593-mediumNo matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothingD5KO2IEUUAIQIwJOne of my favorite quotes is “believe nothing that you hear or see, even salt looks like sugar.” I thought of that quote often while reading Gregg Olsen’s latest thriller, Lying Next to Me. Absolutely nothing was what it appeared to be  – nothing.

Adam and his wife Sophie, along with their 3 year old daughter, have rented a cabin on a lake. Next to them is another couple, Kristin and Connor Moss and on the other side, a grandmother with her grandkids. On the second day of the trip, Adam takes his daughter out in a row boat to go crabbing. While on the water, he sees someone abduct Sophie who is sitting on the shore. An elderly walker also sees Sophie being abducted. The grandmother and her grandkids arrive home to see Adam and his daughter frantically rowing toward shore and calls 9-1-1. The Moss’ couple. sees and hears nothing. But what really happened that morning. What did anyone truly see or hear? They all experienced the same thing, right? Right!?

Admittedly, I adore Gregg Olsen. I’ve read everything he has written, including his true crime novels. When it comes to crime – real or fiction – I think no one does it better. Lying in Wait is a tense, stay-awake-to-finish thriller that had me hooked from the very first line. While I suspected who might have done it – but wait – there’s no way they could have done it – it was a locked room mystery and too many variables and too many unsolved questions as to why. Until the answers were there before us in the end and then … just WOW. This is a suspense novel that makes you really hate everyone while at the same time hoping that at least one of the bad guys isn’t as awful as you think they might be. There is a child involved, surely someone is good. They have to be! In the end, I sat staring at my Kindle and wondering about what I had just read while knowing that is exactly how I like my thrillers! Leave me in awe. Leave me in wonder. Leave me speechless and Lying in Wait absolutely did just that!

Obviously I highly recommend #LyinginWait to anyone who enjoys a great crime novel. I also encourage you read Olsen’s other work. It’s all fantastic. Lying in Wait will be available May 21 at amazon

Thank you to #Netgalley, #Thomas&MercerPublishing and #GreggOlsen for my copy of Lying in Wait.

Park Avenue Summer by #ReneeRosen

Park Avenue Summer is a walk back in time to an era when women were just emerging from the sexual dark ages into a generation of power, opportunities and revolution.

park ave summerAlice Weiss has left her small, midwestern town in search of big dreams and opportunities in New York City. It’s the mid-60s and times are changing, particularly at Cosmopolitan, the failing magazine where Alice has landed a job. The new editor, Helen Gurley Brown has shocked everyone as the first female editor of the publication but more so with her shocking bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. Alice soon learns that it’s a man’s world as those in power try to draw her into a scheme to sabotage Brown’s work and ultimately lead to the failure of Cosmo. Alice learns, however, that in this new world a woman can make demands and have it all, succeed and come out on top!

Admittedly I’m a child of the 60s and 70s and remember well the days of both the sexual revolution and the feminist movement. Reading Park Avenue Summer was very much like a walk down memory lane for me. There was a very clear division in my life’s timeline: a before, when women were one way, and after, when things were very different. We have women like Helen Gurley Brown to thank for that. While Park Avenue Summer is the story of Alice’s time at the magazine, there is quite a bit of historical fact throughout the book. Much of what happened at Cosmopolitan and what transpired with Brown is documented. While we look back on her with our present sense of power and women’s rights, at the time so much of what she did and wrote about was considered scandalous. Churches across America were preaching against Brown and her magazine. Men wouldn’t allow their daughters or wives to flip through the pages of it at stores, much less buy it. The only place I ever saw it was at the hair dresser’s. We went there often. 😉  Through Alice’s eyes we see the world as it is changes; we see young women like Alice growing bolder and realizing their own power and strength. That is exactly what this period was about and Rosen captures that time, the feelings of empowerment beautifully. Park Avenue Summer is, in fact, the perfect 1960s historical fiction to illustrate the evolution of women from one era to the next.

“Filled with wit, heart and verve, Rosen’s novel dazzles and empowers” ~ Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana

Many thanks to @ReneeRosen1 and Elisha @BerkleyPub  Park Avenue Summer will be available April 30 at your favorite bookseller and at amazon

Alice’s Island #DanielSanchezArévalo

A happily married woman’s perfect life shatters when her husband turns up dead hundreds of miles away from where he should have been. Suddenly she discovers that there was a part of him about which she knew nothing at all.

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I’ve never read anything by this author from Spain before reading this novel but already want to read everything he has to offer!  Alice’s Island was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be the run-of-the-mill cheating husband, husband dies, wife finds out, oh no oh no, boring read and instead it is more domestic drama where, yes, the husband had secrets and dies but the wife and her two children are the primary focus as they are searching for answers, putting their lives back together, coming to grips with the reality of their new situation. This is a very character driven novel and Arevalo does a marvelous job creating intriguing, multi-dimensional characters that will fascinate and hold you captive throughout. I highly recommend Alice’s Island for those who like suspense over thrillers, slow burning, character driven novels.

Thank you to #IAWR for my copy of #AlicesIsland

We Never Told #DianaAltman

There are stories relating to women that are as timeless as time itself. As advanced as society may become, there are issues that women and their children deal with that seem never to change. We Never Told is one such tale.

41646617amazonWe Never Told revolves around a Hollywood socialite, Violet, and her two daughters, Sonya and Joan. Violet lives the epitome of the luxurious lifestyle of the “rich and famous,” cycling through husbands, attending parties, living a life of style and glamour until Sonya is fourteen years old. That summer, her mother tells her two daughters that she has to go away for treatment of a tumor. She leaves the girls in the care of the housekeeper and makes them swear to tell no-one, not even their father who has visitation rights. Even after the housekeeper has a heart attack and leaves the girls alone, they tell no one for months on end. They simply endure and care for themselves. It becomes a secret that lives between them – thus the title for this book. They never told a soul. After their mother’s death years later, the daughter’s finally realize what had actually happened to their mother. We, of course, do not learn this until the end of the book – although I’m quite sure most astute readers can guess. It isn’t the end result that is important to the story,  it the is the story itself. And that is where the beauty lies with We Never Told.

It doesn’t matter where families live, in New York, California or Mississippi. It doesn’t matter if it is 1790, 1990, or 2019, there still are things that certain things that families keep secret, certain actions that are not talked about from teenage pregnancy to drug use to mental illness. If you scratch past the surface in every family, you will find a secret that family is hiding. Families also are a sum total of all of their parts, no child is raised in a vacuum – from parents to grandparents. aunts, cousins, school teachers or coaches – we all are a result of the influences of those around us. That is the beautiful lesson of We Never Told. Altman weaves together an incredible story of women, children, families, care-takers, the world in the late 20th century and that of today and makes each aspect of her story completely relevant to now. While of the book takes place in the 20th century, it isn’t historical fiction, but a timely read for today’s generation. It is one that I highly recommend.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #SheWritesPress and #DianaAltman for my advanced copy of #WeNeverTold. It will be on sale June 11, 2019.

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America #MattKracht

It’s SPRING and if you live above the equator that means that the weather should be getting warmer and the dumb birds are hopping around and making their usual incessant noise and pooping on your cars and waking you at ungodly hours. I say “should’ because it is supposed to snow across most of North America this week and dumb because, hello? Who wakes up before the sun rises on purpose!?! 🙂  Yes, I love birds. I adore them. I feed them and attract them and I really do have a backyard wildlife habitat. Like the book, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America, I’m just being cheeky.

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Matt Kracht has written a very funny, tongue in cheek guide to some of the most common birds found in North America. He has humorously renamed them so that we might easily remember them. For example, there is the White Breasted Butt Nugget, the Western Meadow Jerk or, simply, the damn crows. He tends to feel about crows the same way I do. The entire page is filled with Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw….. Yes, that really is all that you need to know about the damn crow, isn’t it?

iu0UIMXQJMKracht also accompanies each delightful paragraph of information with his own personal illustrations. Okay, some are better than others depending on how well he likes the bird. I won’t even show you the illustration of the crow which resembles something a two year old with a black marker might draw in a fit of rage. Again, very aptly done when considering the caw-caw-caw of the crow. Most, however, are beautifully rendered as you can see below:
black capped prickadeeDespite the irreverence, the information throughout the book, the details, the drawings – with a few noted exceptions – the maps, and the highlights are very informative. If I were teaching children about birds…. okay, well, there is some mild cursing but aside from that, I can assure you that kids definitely would remember these birds better than they would a regular field guide. Absolutely! I know that I will! It also makes for a terrific coffee table book and conversation piece. Guests have adored it! I adore it! I haven’t laughed this hard or this much in a very long time!!

Thank you to #netgalley, #ChronicleBooks and @MattKracht for my copy of #TheFieldGuidetoDumbBirdsofNorthAmerica and to Christopher @Plucked From the Stacks for recommending this book to his readers. Also, if you’ve never seen The Big Year  starring Jack Black and Steve Martin, also about birding, I highly recommend it. It is one hilarious movie!