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

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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 Mother in Law #SallyHepworth

With two Mother-in-Laws under my belt, which honestly was two too many, and being one myself, I felt I was ready to tackle Sally Hepworth’s latest novel, The Mother-in-Law. I was, after all, an experienced pro. I was not, however, at all prepared for the multi-layered, character driven drama that unfolded before me – not even close!
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When Lucy first met her Mother-in-Law, Diana, she immediately knew she was not going to be the wife that Diana had hoped for her son. Diana was one of those mothers/wives who was perfect in every way: immaculate home, perfect spouse, marvelous and adored mother, a planner, a doer, someone who made things happen in life for those she loved. If she didn’t love you – well, therein was the issue. But Lucy tried and she tried hard. When Diana is discovered dead, Lucy is perhaps the one most shocked, especially when it is indicated that Diana was already dying from cancer. You see, Lucy knows better. Lucy knows a lot of secrets about Diana and this family. As the investigation continues and the secrets are revealed, the layers that covered this perfect family begin to crack and we see that not was not as perfectly pretty as it appeared – but are they ever?

I absolutely adore Hepworth and her dramas. I don’t always like each and every book, some are not always five star hits for me, but each of her books leave me emotionally charged and the characters that she builds stay with me forever. The Mother-in-Law is definitely a winner! There are so many twists and turns and layers to this story that just when you think you have it all figured out – and you probably will figure the “whodunnit – a new discovery is revealed and you find yourself back at square one. While there is the underlying mystery of Diana’s death in the novel, The Mother-in-Law truly is a family drama at its core. It’s about relationships that grow, alter, are amended and die. It’s about family – those that work and those that are dysfunctional. Mother’s relationships with their children are complicated; when they become adults it is even more so. When they marry… well, complicated doesn’t even scratch the surface for many. And yet, The Mother-in-Law does scratch that surface and what it reveals will leave you stunned.

“With jaw-dropping discoveries, and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. ” –Library Journal, starred review

Many thanks to #Netgalley @StMartinsPress and @SallyHepworth for copy of #TheMotherinLaw available April 23 at        amazon

 

Tomorrow There Will Be Sun #DanaReinhardt

Tomorrow There Will Be Sun is a marvelous written piece of women’s fiction that humorously explores a woman’s life as she realizes that she has reached “middle age,” and her life is not as perfect as she had planned.

51Z11MUh0oL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_amazonJenna Carlson has planned the perfect birthday party for her husband, Peter. Each year Peter and his best friend, Solly, celebrate their birthdays together but this year, their 50th, has to be the best ever! Jenna has been planning for more than a year for the couples, she and Peter; Solly and his second wife Ingrid, to vacation for a week at a luxurious villa in Puerto Vallarta. Joining them will be Jenna and Peter’s daughter, Clementine, Solly and Ingrid’s out-of-control 5-year-old son and Solly’s teenage son, Malcolm from his first marriage. Malcolm has recently has been expelled from school but we don’t talk about that. It sounds like a real delight, doesn’t it? The bottomless, perfect margaritas do help, really, just keeping drinking those. What doesn’t help is that Peter insists on taking “work calls” from his gorgeous assistant back in the states, Solly is incredibly overbearing and Clem is glued to her phone the entire trip – except when she’s trying to seduce Malcom. At the point that a drug cartel disrupts the local town and the villa loses both internet and phone connectivity, the nerves of everyone are frayed. An emotional explosion is inevitable; what the fall out will be may surprise you.

I admit that I, in my 50s, obviously am the target demographic for Tomorrow There Will Be Sun. I found Jenna to be so completely relatable. Her fears, her worries, the things that annoy her – even the words that she makes “off-limits” – all are things that I completely understand and do and say. Okay, there is a lot of Jenna in me. I found the other characters reprehensible and it almost got to the point that I couldn’t finish the book because I, quite literally, despised Solly so much. I’m also very VERY glad that I no longer have teenagers in my world because the more that I read about them in fiction, the less I like them as a whole. When the book finally reaches its crescendo, I am right there with Jenna. I get it! But then, I also totally understand what she does next. Why? Because I’ve been there and done that. Not that my husband did what Peter did, but when you get to be my age and your entire life has been committed to raising your children, your career was set aside for them and them alone, you wake up and realize that the comfortable life you enjoy is very much wedded to the income of the partner that you have. Would you dissolve a business partnership over something like this? It’s questionable. Would you learn to make compromises so that you each had what you wanted in the end? Maybe. Every person involved makes the decisions that are right for them and that is exactly what Jenna does in the end. My gosh, the author does an amazing job conveying the emotions, the fears and worries of every woman who ever has found herself in Jenna’s circumstances.

I loved the book, I loved Jenna and most of all I LOVE that women are writing books about real, live women, warts and all, who are not in their twenties , rather, those who are faced with the ugly parts of life! This was a stellar read for me and I hope it will be for you as well.

Much gratitude to #Edelweiss, #PamelaDormanBks, @PenguinBooks and #dsreinhardt for this incredible read!

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop @RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Rosie had everything she ever had wished for: the perfect husband, she was the sous chef at a Michelin rated restaurant, two perfect children – well, they were perfectly planned out in her future where they would be perfect to be sure – and she lived in a perfect apartment. Until she walked in on her birthday to find her not-so-perfect husband with a pre-packed bag walking out on her for another woman! Rosie’s very perfect life was shattered. So she did what any sane woman would do – she drank a lot of cheap wine and unknowingly used all of her savings to purchase a hot pink RV named Poppy! Rosie gives it all up – the perfect apartment, the perfect job, the Michelin stars and hits the road with Poppy to open a pop-up tea shop.

41962558I’ve recently read quite a few books about women who have hit a crisis point in their lives and, throwing caution to the wind, leave everything behind to open a bakery, bookstore, coffee shop, etc. Rosie’s story, however, hit notes of reality that I found myself relating to on multiple layers. She was alone, in fact she was a loner in general. She had used her savings to purchase Poppy so money was not a luxury for her. When Poppy breaks down, she has to rely on the kindness of others and scrabble together new ways to make money to pay for the repairs. She got herself mixed up in a “catfishing” scheme that was extremely realistic and, sadly, happens far too often to women online. I found myself nodding throughout the book, saying yes, yep, been there, done that. I suspect we all have – or will – find ourselves in similar situations. That’s not to say that Rosie did nothing except make mistakes. Along her journey, she made true friends, learned real lessons, renewed her self-esteem and discovered that she could fall down, take chances, and get back up again to carry on. She found love and laughter in the most unusual places but learned that she also could stand on her own two feet when she needed to do so.

Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop is a wonderfully written story of friendship, love, self-discovery and person growth – a true delight to read for all.

Many thanks to #Netgalley, @Jaxandwillsmum and @HQDigital

 

More Than Words @JillSantopolo – Publication Day

More Than Words is a beautifully written, poignant story of life, love, metamorphosis and relationships.

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Nina Gregory is an heiress to one of the most wealthy hoteliers in the US. She was raised by an authoritative but very loving father who was her sole parent after the tragic death of her mother. She knows that someday she will have to take over the helm of her family’s successful business, but for now, she is very happily involved in her job as speech writer for up and coming politician and NYC Mayoral candidate, Rafael O’Connor-Ruiz. Nina also is very happily dating her childhood best friend, Tim, whose family has been a part of her life forever. Tim’s parents are intricately involved in the hotel’s business and his parents and Nina’s have been friends since their university days. The only cloud in Nina’s world is that her beloved father is dying of cancer. Upon her father’s death, Nina slowly begins to discover secrets about their company and her mother’s death. As the ramifications of these lies and misdeeds are revealed, Nina realizes that her life, her legacy and the image she has worked so hard to maintain has been a ruse. It is now up to her to put the pieces back together and to create the company and woman she truly desires .

At the heart of More Than Words is a romance, a love story, but the book is far more than that. It isn’t solely about the love that Nina has for the men she has fallen for, but also about her own self love and self worth; the love she believes she has missed by not having a mother in her life; the adoration and love she has/had for her father despite his many shortcomings and the love she has for the strong women in her life. It is a story of self-discovery and how people, especially women, are admonished to behave, look and dress in certain ways in order to fulfill rigid expectations and, often, those expectations don’t correspond to the person’s true identity. As Nina’s façade begins to crack and fall around her, she discovers her true self and what emerges is completely different and beautiful. That is the true story of More Than Words and it is a lesson for us all to learn. It is significant and touching and Santopolo has done a masterful job illustrating this caveat of wisdom for us through a touching love story.  With February being the “month of love,” what better way to celebrate than reading a love story?

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #JillSantopolo and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #MoreThanWords on sale now.

Dear Rosie Hughes @Melanie_Hudson

Those of us who write book blogs obviously adore reading, literally consume books, or we would have blogs about sports or politics or some other random interest instead. Often I find myself writing about how much I “love” a book and how terrific it is – and it is – because it is rare that I don’t thoroughly enjoy a book with its power to transport me to a different place or another time, to escape for just a little while. So when a book comes along that genuinely surprises me, catches me off-guard and completely rocks me to my core, often I am left speechless. Such was the case with Dear Rosie Hughes, a beautiful book written by Melanie Hudson. I finished this book very early on Christmas morning before anyone else was awake. The family woke to find me sitting in front of the fire bawling my eyes out wondering what, on earth, was the matter with their poor old mom! It has taken me several weeks to compose myself and my thoughts well enough to write this review and even now I know I will not do it justice.

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When I received Dear Rosie Hughes I assumed it was a sweet, cozy read. The cover is cute, the premise is precious. Two adult women who have been lifelong friends since childhood fell out of touch over something that happened in their early adulthood. When Rosie signs up to go to the Persian Gulf as a meteorologist, she and Aggie begin writing to one another again – just to pass the time while Rosie is away. The book itself is a series of letters between Aggie and Rosie, Rosie and her parents, Rosie’s fellow soldier and Aggie, and various other peripheral characters that come in and out of their lives throughout the story. As the book unfolds we learn more about each of the women, their relationships with one another, with their parents, their town, with Rosie’s husband whom she may or may not be divorcing, the child Rosie lost and Aggie’s myriad of interesting dates. We watch as Rosie first adapts to life in the desert, then becomes dejected as the truth is revealed about why they actually are there, her horror as the war begins, her struggle as one of the few women in the camps. We read about Aggie who uses humor, hysterical, laugh-out-loud humor, to cover her pain of rejection that she has suffered throughout her life and we see her growth as she takes on the responsibility of writing her own book as well as running a café in Scotland. The growth in friendship and maturity for everyone involved is a beauty to read and behold as it unfolds.

As I began reading, I was somewhat dismayed that the entire book was nothing except correspondence between various people but as I continued reading I realized that this truly was one of the most intimate methods of communicating thoughts and feelings that I’ve ever come across in fiction. By the time I concluded the book, I was so completely and utterly invested in these characters’ lives that I felt as though they were my friends, my daughters, my son, my town. Perhaps it is because my husband was in the military and we were involved in the Persian Gulf, the first one not the second, and we had friends who fought and who died there. Perhaps the relevancy was so close to me that I identified with the hope, the joy and the pain. Or, perhaps, Hudson captured it all so perfectly that we all can identify with these women and their friendship, their family, and their loss. Regardless of why this book affected me so deeply, I only know that it did and it is, by far, one of the very best books I have read in a long time. If you don’t read another book that I recommend in 2019, please read this one. Rosie and Aggie’s story are waiting for you.

My eternal gratitude to @Netgalley, @HarperImpulse and @Melanie_Hudson for allowing me the honor of reading #DearRosieHughes