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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#PublicationDay Swimming For Sunlight @AllieLarkin

Swimming for Sunlight is an uplifting story full of love, friendship, growth and multi-generational comradery that will fill your heart with joy from beginning to end.

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amazonKatie Ellis suffered a double loss as a child; her father died of a heart attack as they were playing in the water and her mother abandoned her shortly thereafter. As a result, despite an abundance of love from her grandmother, Nan, and the caring of all of Nan’s friends, Katie suffers from debilitating anxiety disorder which now has cost Katie her marriage. The one thing she has fought for and won in the divorce settlement is her faithful-fearful dog, Bark. Now Katie is moving back in with Nan to be surrounded once more by a wonderful community of friends.

As someone who suffers from extreme social anxiety, I related to Katie and her faithful pooch very much. As she plunges herself into helping her Nan reconnect with Nan’s friends from the past, Katie slowly begins to heal and we, as readers, are able to see her growth – after a harrowing fall to the very bottom of an emotional fallout. It is through the help of the community, her own childhood friends and the love of her dear pet that we watch Katie learn to deal with her anxiety – and that of Bark’s as well.

There are a number of characters in Swimming for Sunlight in addition to the primary ones of Katie and her Nan and each play an integral part in the story. Larkin does a beautiful job of developing them to their fullest, slowly revealing their true nature so that we see their strengths and weaknesses as well, just as we would our own friends and neighbors. She then weaves their storylines in with Katie’s brilliantly. I loved Swimming for Sunlight. It came into my life at exactly the right time when I needed it most and filled it with warmth and happiness. I hope it will do the same for many other readers.

Many thanks to #Netgalley, #AllieLarkin and @AtriaBooks for my copy of #SwimmingForSunlight available today!

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.

Cold Waters: Normal Alabama 1 #DebbieHerbert

Wow! To say that I like Southern Noir is an understatement and when it done well, it knocks my socks off. Cold Waters, my Amazon First Reads selection for March knocked it out of the park and into the parking lot beyond. This is one amazing chilling, twisty, dark book!
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amazonWhen Violet was 14 years old, tragedy struck in the town of Normal, Alabama and the town blamed Violet for its loss. A young girl vanished without a trace, the last person to see her was Violet, who was found wandering in the forest where the two often explored and went skinny dipping in the murky lake that ran through town. After being declared psychologically unwell, in a fugue state, Violet was sent to the state mental hospital. Now she has returned to Normal, in more ways than one, to claim her meager inheritance left to her by her mother, and to help her sister care for her father. But the town has not forgotten that fateful day and nothing in Normal is quite normal at all.

As Violet attempts to recall the tragic events surrounding the night that her best friend died, it appears that someone is making sure she is unable to do so even it means she loses what little hold she has on her fragile thread of sanity. The characters that surround Violet, generally, are the most vile characters I’ve run across in literature in a long while; but, they are as realistic as I have encountered as well. I felt as if I knew each and every one of them. They are the people who border on sociopathy, and some who are outright psychopaths, who go out of their way to ensure that others fail, whose only goal is make sure that they come out on top. And then there are those who think they are doing the “right” thing when, in fact, everything they do worsens Violet’s situation more. It is a sad thing to think that the state mental hospital might have been safest place for Violet to spend a decade of her life but with friends and family like hers, it is the truth.

I honestly thought that this was going to be a paranormal book when I selected it. The confusion with any book set in the “deep south,” is that it often is difficult to separate the south’s folk tales, folklore and superstition from magical realism. What they believe in is so culturally engrained into the fabric of their existence that it is who they are without question, without their realization. The superstition in Cold Waters felt like home to me. It created a darker and more believable atmosphere for the book and for me, as a reader, because it is what I know and what I lived for the majority of my life. While this is a book about murder and solving a historic crime, ultimately it is about this poor young woman finally having the opportunity to gain strength and opportunity to stand on her own two feet with the realization that she is not any less normal than the rest of us. Cold Waters is a book I highly recommend for those who enjoy multiple genres from suspense and mystery to women’s literature to noir and southern fiction.

 

 

A Perfect Cornish Summer @PhillipaAshley

The skies are blue, the birds are singing and daffodils are blooming – finally it is spring in the Midwestern US which can only mean one thing! I’m ready for SUMMER! What better way to prepare for summer sunshine than to sail off to the Cornish coast. Well, at least in my imagination! It is A Perfect Cornish Summer thanks to Phillipa Ashley’s brilliant new cosy.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival

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One summer, while Sam and her friends are thinking of their small town’s financial woes and also making plans to attend a festival in a nearby town, it occurs to Sam, who has money troubles of her own, that a festival is exactly what her own town of Porthmellow needs. It’s also what Sam needs in her own life to keep her from thinking about her dismal, rather lonely life. Now it is twenty years later and the festival that Sam and her friends started is a region success and about to celebrate that twentieth anniversary! The only problem is that the nationally renown chef that they had booked has cancelled and the newly booked chef is someone from Sam’s past that she never wanted or hoped to see again. Between the feeling of dread at that prospect and the sabotaging occurring all around the village, Sam is worried that the festival may not make to year twenty-one.

I adore Cornwall and talk about it so often that my own family just assumed it was a town nearby on Lake Michigan – I honestly kid you not. If there is a book written about Cornwall, set in Cornwall, featuring someone from Cornwall, you can bet I’m going to read it. A Perfect Cornish Summer did not disappoint me in the least with its small, twisty streets, community togetherness, sly humor and, of course, unpredictable stormy coastal weather! There are multiple story lines but each are relevant and well placed; they  tie in nicely with one another and, I suspect, serve as an introduction to the key players who will be integral to subsequent books in the series. There also are multiple sub-plots which are not so much mysteries as they are mysterious subterfuge. This is a cosy read, it’s not going to be an edge-of-your-seat dark thriller, nor should it be. It’s the story of a woman, her family, her friends and her community and how they all work together to help one another succeed, despite hard feelings, past differences and even different tastes in music. Phillipa Ashley is a gifted story-teller and she has done a beautiful job of creating a tale that will envelope you in its summer warmth. Now, how quickly can I get to Cornwall from the middle of the US!? 

Thank you to #Netgalley, #PhillipaAshley and @AvonBooksUK for my advanced copy of this delight book. You will find it on sale April 25th. 

 

Keeping Lucy #TGreenwood

Keeping Lucy is the first T Greenwood novel that I have read and it is one that grabbed me, pulled me in and still will not let me go. It is heart breaking and heartwarming, historical and timely all at once. It’s a book that I highly recommend.

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Keeping Lucy begins with Ginny Richardson giving birth to her daughter, Lucy, who is born with Down Syndrome, known as ” a mongoloid” at that time. Ginny’s husband and father in law make the decision to put Lucy in a state-run facility called Willowridge where she will be cared for until she dies. Those are their words. For several days, Ginny is given “twilight,” the drug most women were given during that time to forget the pains of childbirth and her loss. Remember, natural childbirth was not in vogue at this time. When my own daughter died in-vitro, I was given “twilight” so that I would “forget” everything. Trust me, you don’t forget. Your body remembers everything and your mind desperately tries to fill in the pieces that it was forced to black out. This drug is horrific. I cannot believe and entire generation of women were routinely given this drug. For two years Ginny is forced by her husband and her father in law to pretend her daughter did not exist until her best friend brings her news articles about the horrors that have been uncovered at Willowridge: children lying in their own feces, roaches in the food, children malnourished and far worse. Ginny and her friend, Marsha, decide – finally – to go to Willowridge only to discover that, while she can visit Lucy, her parental rights have been terminated by her husband. Ginny takes matters into her own hands at this point and a battle for Lucy’s survival ensues.

I actually loved Keeping Lucy for multiple reasons and many of those reasons are the very ones for which other readers are disparaging the book. First, Keeping Lucy is based on an actual place called Willowbrook. You can read more about it HERE. It was so horrific that legislation was passed in the late 70s that allegedly altered the way that we in the US care for the “disabled.” I use the word allegedly because I grew up in the south near a facility aptly called the Conway Human Development Center. It was a place of filth and horror where people with mental and physical disabilities were sent just like Lucy was sent in this story. It still exists in one of the poorest states in the US and the residents are not developing anything other than bedsores and diseases. It’s a disgrace. If you doubt that, then you can read this article from today’s news.   Nothing has changed. Nothing. Books like Keeping Lucy are necessary to educate readers about these horrors then as well as now.

Furthermore, every time I read a book set in the late 60s and early 70s and that book is historically accurate regarding the plight of women, I am utterly amazed at the number of female reviewers who write scathing reviews about the passivity of the female protagonist. Here’s a reminder for you strong women of today. My daughter and I purchased a home two years ago, We literally had to jump through hoops in the state of Indiana to get a bank to approve a home loan to two women without a male co-signer! This is the 21st century. Until 1978, it was legal to fire a woman from her job if she got pregnant. An abortion was not legal until 1973 – and in some states in the southern US it still is not regardless of what you might think otherwise. Until 1977, you could be fired for reporting sexual harassment in the work place, a woman could not apply for a credit card on her own without a male co-signer until 1974,  and could not refuse to have sex with her husband under any circumstances until the mid 1970s. Are you beginning to get a picture here ladies!? Ginny was not passive. She was living her life according the law of the land. While most others were guaranteed rights in 1965 and 1966, women were not granted any rights, other than the right to vote, until the mid to late 70s and we still obviously are fighting for the right to decide what is best for our own bodies! In Keeping Lucy, Ginny literally had no rights. Furthermore, everyone smoked!! They smoked in restaurants, they smoked in their cars, they smoked in stores, they smoked when pregnant and they smoked around kids! My doctor, whom I adored, smoked every time I visited – in his doctor’s office! I don’t know where you were in the 50s, 60s and 70s but there were advertisements for cigarettes extolling the benefits of nicotine! You are looking at the behavior of these women through your 21st century glasses and missing some very valuable lessons that we all need see and learn. Primarily this – nothing has changed!! We have politicians and religious leaders who want babies born at all cost. These children are then put in institutions like the Human Development Center and no one ever considers the toll that it places on the women who have given birth. No one EVER thinks about the women – period – much less these poor children!

So, with all of that said, please read Keeping Lucy without blinders, with an open mind and with the idea that there is more here than two women on a joy ride across the south. This book is available for pre-order now.

Thank you very much #Netgalley, @tgwood505 and #StMartinsPress for my advanced copy of #KeepingLucy.