Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate


Before We Were Yours

Lisa Wingate

 
Book Description:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shanty boat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge--until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents--but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals--in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

 

Buy now on:




 

My 5-Star Review:

Imagine that someone snatches your young children, then sells them to another family. Sadly, this actually happened, and the woman who did it was considered to be an upstanding person who was helping young orphans find homes. Mixing fact with fiction, Lisa Wingate creates this compelling story of family in her bestselling novel, “Before We Were Yours.”

In the present day, when Avery Stafford tours a nursing home with her father, she is approached by an elderly woman who confuses her for someone else. Intrigued, Avery visits the woman again and sees a photo on her nightstand of a woman who looks like she could be a member of Avery’s family. Slowly, she unravels a family secret of a tragic past. But it’s that past that has made them who they are today.

Weaving the past in among the current day story, Wingate creates a spellbinding novel that is impossible to put down. Tragic, heart wrenching at times, and poignant, this is a story you will not soon forget.

(I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Wingate lives in the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas.

Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 for two years running, Lisa Wingate writes novels that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of literary works. Her novels have garnered or been short-listed for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the LORIES Best Fiction Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, Family Fiction's Top 10, RT Booklover's Reviewer's Choice Award, and others. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who promote greater kindness and civility in American life. She’s been a writer since Mrs. Krackhardt’s first-grade class and still believes that stories have the power to change the world.

IN THE WRITER'S OWN WORDS: A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, made a writer out of me. That may sound unlikely, but it's true. It's possible to find a calling when you're still in pigtails and Mary Jane shoes, and to know it's your calling. I was halfway through the first grade when I landed in Mrs. Krackhardt's classroom. I was fairly convinced there wasn't anything all that special about me... and then, Mrs. Krackhardt stood over my desk and read a story I was writing. She said things like, "This is a great story! I wonder what happens next?"

It isn't every day a shy new kid gets that kind of attention. I rushed to finish the story, and when I wrote the last word, the teacher took the pages, straightened them on the desk, looked at me over the top, and said, "You are a wonderful writer!"

A dream was born. Over the years, other dreams bloomed and died tragic, untimely deaths. I planned to become an Olympic gymnast or win the National Finals Rodeo, but there was this matter of back flips on the balance beam and these parents who stubbornly refused to buy me a pony. Yet the writer dream remained. I always believed I could do it because... well... my first grade teacher told me so, and first grade teachers don't lie.

So, that is my story, and if you are a teacher, or know a teacher, or ever loved a special teacher, I salute you from afar and wish you days be filled with stories worth telling and stories worth reading.

 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White


Hi all,

This was the first novel I’ve read by Karen White and I absolutely enjoyed it. Here is the book description and my thoughts on this story.

 

The Night the Lights Went Out

Karen White

 

Book Description:

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....

 
Buy now on:




 

My 5 Star Review:

Marilee Dunlap is reeling after her divorce and moves with her two children into a sweet cottage home that she is renting from the elderly Sugar Prescott, a well-to-do woman who doesn’t suffer fools. The two women strike up an unlikely friendship, and Sugar feels compelled to tell Marilee stories of her scandalous past. Meanwhile, Marilee is facing trouble as a local blogger is intent upon digging up her own secrets. Despite that, Marilee is soon accepted by the most popular mother in the school, Heather Blackford, and they become fast friends. Sugar warns Marilee about Heather, but Marilee doesn’t see her new friend the way Sugar paints her. It won’t be long before Marilee will wish she’d heeded Sugar’s warning.

This was such an entertaining novel with a touch of intrigue and mystery included. I adored the character, Sugar, despite her prim and proper ways. Her story of her youth is so interesting that it’s hard to believe this is fiction. And the relationship that grows between Marilee and the uptight Sugar is heartwarming. The plot is more than one or two stories—it is many stories and mysteries infused into one novel. It keeps the reader thinking throughout and is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend.

(I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

I grew up being a voracious reader and it was a natural step to turn my interest to writing. I have published award-winning and bestselling novels including my latest release THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT published by Penguin Random House in April, 2017. This is the book I'm calling my "Steel Magnolias" meets "The Girl on the Train." Spanning from the Depression era to modern day, it's a story of three very different women, and the true meaning of friendship.

I write what others have termed "grit-lit"--southern women's fiction, as well as a contemporary paranormal mystery series (The House on Tradd Street is the 1st book in the series) set in Charleston, South Carolina. All of my books are set in the US South, and feature a female protagonist at a crossroads in her life.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book Review: For The Brave (The Gentrys of Paradise, Book 2) by Holly Bush

Hi all,

Those of you who read my blog already know that I love books by author Holly Bush. I began reading her novels years ago starting with Train Station Bride, and have read every one ever since. So, when the opportunity arose to read her latest – For The Brave – I jumped at it. Was I ever in for a sweet surprise. I’m already a big fan and already believed that Holly was a talented writer, but For The Brave proved to me that she is much more than just talented. Her writing is vivid and compelling, making it difficult to put this book down. I’m in awe of how much she has grown as a writer, and I think we should look forward to big things happening for Holly Bush.

Here is more about the book and my 5-Star review.

 

For The Brave
(The Gentrys of Paradise, Book 2)

Holly Bush

 

Book Description:

1869 – Matthew Gentry joined the Confederate Army at eighteen years of age after an argument with his father, leaving Paradise, his Virginia home and famed horse breeding stables, for the fields of Gettysburg. Having survived the War Between the States, Gentry is haunted by the violence and inhumanity of the war. He continues to roam the country long after the conflict is over, finding solace in the arms of soiled doves and at the bottom of whiskey bottles. Finally traveling home after learning of a family tragedy, he nearly loses his life in a spring-flooded riverbed.

Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the crosshairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie’s secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry.

Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?

 

Buy Now:




 

My 5-Star Review:

For The Brave continues the story of The Gentrys of Paradise which began with the novella, Into The Evermore. Eleanor and Beau’s son, Matthew, leaves home at age eighteen to fight in the Civil War. After what he’s experienced at Gettysburg, as well as other battles, he’s found it easier to lose himself in a bottle and by traveling anywhere except home. Until one day when an beloved employee and good friend of his family finally finds him. Tragedy has struck his family, and it is time for Matthew to come home. However, on the way home, Matthew almost dies crossing a swollen river and is saved and cared for by the spunky Annie Campbell. After months of recuperating at Annie’s home, Matthew finds himself drawn to the strong, caring Annie. He is torn as he knows he must go home, but he doesn’t want to leave Annie behind.

For The Brave immediately pulls you back in history to a time and place when life was simpler but difficult. Matthew starts out in the story as a rough and tough, hard drinking and fun seeking man who is reigned in quickly after hearing he must go home. While recuperating at Annie’s, we see his softer side as he instinctively wants to protect her, despite her protests. Matthew is a fully fleshed out character with a past that we soon learn about that helps you to understand how he’d ended up so unhappy. In turn, Annie’s character is also well-written and fully rounded. I found myself wishing only the best for these two haunted characters who needed love to make them feel whole again.

Vivid, well-written, and compelling. This novel is definitely author Holly Bush’s greatest achievement so far, and I can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

(I received an advance copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

“. . . I intended to be fearless tonight, and found it was easier to face cannons in battle than show feelings that might not be returned. But you’re my brave warrior.” For the Brave

Holly Bush books are set during the turbulent and transformative years of the late 1800’s. The first two books in her newest series, The Gentrys of Paradise, will release in the spring of 2017, beginning with Into the Evermore where readers will meet Virginia horse breeders, Eleanor and Beauregard Gentry. The following books will feature their children, Adam, Matthew, and Olivia. For the Brave is Matthew’s story and is the first full length book of the series.

The Crawford Family Series following the fortunes of the three Boston born Crawford sisters and includes Train Station Bride, Contract to Wed, Her Safe Harbor, and companion novella, The Maid’s Quarters. Cross the Ocean and Charming the Duke are both British set Victorian romances. Fan favorites stand-alone historical romance novels include Romancing Olive and Reconstructing Jackson. Her books are described as ‘emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance.’

Holly makes her home with her husband, one happy Labrador Retriever, and two difficult cats in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

 

Connect with Holly:


Twitter @hollybushbooks,


 

 

Check out my other reviews of Holly Bush’s books:

Train Station Bride

 

Contract to Wed

 

The Maid’s Quarters

 

Her Safe Harbor

 

Charming the Duke

 

Cross the Ocean

 

Romancing Olive

 

Reconstructing Jackson

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

One Wrong Turn Release Day!

 
It's here...
 
 
 
 
The day has finally come!
 
 
ONE WRONG TURN
 
 
Release day!
 
I just loved writing Jess and Clay's heartfelt story of love, loss, and redemption. I hope you'll love it too.
 
Be sure to grab your copy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
or you can order from your favorite bookstore.
 
Book Description:
 

“I’m her husband.”
 The words roll off Clay Connors’s tongue, but with his estranged wife lying in a coma—with no assurance that she’ll awaken—he knows that he is perilously close to losing everything. A singular, terrifying accident has left Jess Connors suspended between life and death. Now Clay is reunited with the family he hasn’t seen for two years, including the daughters he left behind.
Clay should have been there for his family. Never should have stayed away so long. The alcohol that took over his life destroyed everything but a shred of his self-preservation. Sober and haunted, Clay revisits the memory of love, marriage, and how his life unraveled. He hopes that by trying to reconnect with the daughter who blames him and the daughter who barely knew him, he can find a light of hope in this darkest hour. As his family faces its most grueling, emotional test yet, Clay must summon the courage to make right what was wrong—and find forgiveness from his harshest judge: himself.
 
 
 
What readers are saying about One Wrong Turn:


Reader's Favorite ~ "Poignant and heartfelt."  http://ow.ly/iZ9N30aQSDV
 
Book Review by Novel Deelights - "A truly beautifully written story." http://ow.ly/CFFu30cJllo

 

Books and Bindings Book Review Blog ~ "A poignant, thought-provoking, and engaging story." http://ow.ly/TKDp30cCSpv

 

Bibliotica Book Review Blog  ~ "Vivid settings and vibrant characters."  http://ow.ly/s6D530cDuak

 


Please leave a review after you've read it. Thank you.
 
Enjoy!
 
 


Saturday, May 20, 2017

One Wrong Turn Amazon Echo Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who entered!
 
Congrats to the winners:
 
 
Rebecca B. - Amazon Echo
 
Brenda H. - $25 Amazon Gift Card
 
Kathleen K. - $25 Amazon Gift Card
 
 
Don't worry - I'll have more giveaways in the future. Sign up for my
Reader's List so you won't miss out!



 

We are only a month away from the release of my
 
new novel ~ One Wrong Turn ~ and it's time
 
to celebrate with a Giveaway!
 
 
 Grand Prize:
 
An Amazon Echo
(I have one and just love all the features!)
 
2nd and 3rd Prizes:
 
$25 Amazon Gift Card
 
 
Contest runs
May 20th - June 20th
 
Easy entry.
Enter using the Rafflecopter below.
 
Or, you can leave a comment below. Include your
Facebook or Twitter link in the comment so I can contact you
if you win.
 
 Good Luck!
 
 
Contest Terms
 
Contest is open to U.S. Residents Only.
(Sorry to all my international readers - I do appreciate you!
But shipping is crazy expensive to other countries.)
Winners will be contacted and given 3 days to respond. If there
is no response within that three days, a new
winner will be contacted. Only one Amazon Echo
and only two $25 Gift Cards will be awarded.
 
 
 
 
And don't forget to pre-order
 
One Wrong Turn
 
in Kindle or Paperback format.  
 
 
Enter Now!
 
 



Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

Hi all,

You had me at 'witch'! I love tales of witches and witchcraft in any form so when I saw this debut novel by Beth Underdown, I immediately wanted to read it. And what a great read it was! Here is more about the novel and my review.
 
 
 
The Witchfinder’s Sister
Beth Underdown

 

 

Book Description:

Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . .

“This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law.”

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.
 
There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience.

 

 Buy now on:



 

My 5-Star Review:

I love when an author mixes historical fact with fiction which is exactly what author Beth Underdown has done in her debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister.

In Essex, England, in the year 1645, a man by the name of Matthew Hopkins, backed by the rich men in the community, begins a campaign to rid the area of supposed witches. If a child dies of fever, or crops are destroyed, or a farmer’s cow dies, people become suspicious and blame it on witchcraft. They round up widowed or elderly woman and blame their misfortune on them. It is Matthew’s job to prove or disprove that each woman is a witch.

What is absolutely terrifying about this scenario is that it is actual fact. This happened. What is fascinating is the way Ms. Underdown takes this true story and creates characters around it to fill in the details that are not know and create an intriguing, gripping tale. Believe me, you won’t want to put this one down!

If you love Paula Brackston and Alice Hoffman novels, you are going to love this one.

(I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is her first novel, and is out with Viking in the UK and Ballantine in the US in Spring 2017. The book is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins, whom she first came across while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Find Your Next Read! Great Book Deals for May!

 
 
 
 
Are you looking for an entertaining book to curl up with this weekend? Amazon is offering some great deals in May. You may want to even stock up!
 
Amazing books from $0.99 to $2.00!
 
Grab one or more of these wonderful titles while they're on sale!
 
Photo courtesy of the amazing Steena Holmes!
 
 
And don't forget to leave a review when you've read it!
 
 


Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Fling 105 Paperbacks Giveaway!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Love to Read? – Enter this amazing contest
I’m so excited to share this amazing contest with you!
Right now is your chance to enter to win 105 PAPERBACK Novels, featuring your favorite best-selling ROMANCE authors (including me!) of all genres.
Did I mention that the Grand Prize winner will receive a Read and Relax Prize Pack (worth $150) as well? They will also receive a copy of all 105 books.
One additional winner will also receive all 105 books!

Expand your book collection now! Simply enter below.
 
 
Just a sample of the 105 books you can win:
 





And of course my novel, WALKING SAM!
 

 
 
 
 
Contest ends May 31st
 
Good Luck!
 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella


Hi all,

I’ve read almost everything Sophie Kinsella has written — the shopaholic series along with her many stand-alone novels — so when the publisher asked if I’d be interested in reading her latest novel, My Not So Perfect Life, I jumped at the chance. If you love quirky, witty stories, then you are sure to enjoy this one. Here is more about the book and my review.

 

 
My Not So Perfect Life

Sophie Kinsella

 
Book Description:

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

 

Buy now on Amazon
or at your favorite book seller

 
My 5-Star Review:

Is everything your friends show you on social media true? Are they happier than you? More satisfied with their lives? Or are they showing the world what they wish their lives were really like? Katie Brenner believes her best friend, and her fellow workers, all live the life she wants and she tries hard to turn her own life into a picture-perfect version on Instagram. But truth be told, she’s barely scraping by, has no love life, and her flat mates are terrible. When her life is turned upside-down, and she has to return home, she begins to see that the real her isn’t so bad after all.

I really enjoyed Katie’s story in Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel, My Not So Perfect Life. I’ve read most of Ms. Kinsella’s novels (my favorite actually being Twenties Girl) and I enjoy her sense of humor and wit, as well as the heart she puts into each character. Katie’s father, a man who struggles to do well at anything he tries, is a charming character, and Demeter, who you believe to be the witch of the story, proves she has many layers as well, some which are very likable. It’s a charming, sweet story with lots of twists and turns that will keep you reading well into the night.

(I received an advance copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

Sophie Kinsella is a writer and former financial journalist. She is the number one bestselling author of Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number and Wedding Night, the hugely popular Shopaholic novels and the Young Adult novel Finding Audrey. She lives in London with her husband and family. She is also the author of several bestselling novels under the name of Madeleine Wickham. Visit her website at www.sophiekinsella.co.uk

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book Review: Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Hi all,
 
Over the past couple of years I have become a fan of books by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Although I had known her name, I hadn’t yet had a chance to read her books. I’m making up for that big-time. Each book is unique, with characters taken right out of real life and thrust into difficult situations. Catherine knows how to pull on the reader’s heartstrings, while making worthwhile points with her fiction. I’m honored to share the same publisher as her, and thrilled to be able to share my thoughts of her novels with readers. Here is my review of her latest novel, Allie and Bea.

 

 
Allie and Bea

Catherine Ryan Hyde

 

Book Description:

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.

 
Publish Date: May 23, 2017

Lake Union Publishing

 

Pre-Order on Amazon:




 

My 5-Star Review:

Bea is an elderly woman living month-to-month on her Social Security check and barely able to make ends meet. When she is scammed out of the last of her money, she devises a plan: she’ll pack up her van and live as best she can on the road. But she’s decided that the world owes her now, and as far as she’s concerned, anything goes.

Allie’s parents are arrested and she is left to fend for herself in a group home. Allie isn’t street-wise, so living within the system is difficult for her to understand. She has a great sense of right and wrong, and has trouble when others cross that line. When her life is put in danger, she runs, and circumstances bring her right in Bea’s path.

Allie and Bea is a heartwarming story of two strangers being thrust together and trying to make the best of it. Author Catherine Ryan Hyde is an expert at creating real-life characters and putting them into extraordinary circumstances and then seeing how they cope. Bea is tired of being pushed around by society after working for years and being left with nothing. Allie has never thought twice about her upper-class upbringing until it all comes crashing down around her. Together, the two learn what is most important in life as they build a bond of friendship between them.

This story is a definite must-read.

 
About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-two published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.


Cheers,
Deanna

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Review: The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman


 
The Hope Chest

Viola Shipman

 

Book Description:

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

 

Publish Date: March 21, 2017

Pre-order now:



 
My 5-Star Review:

 
From the author of the heartwarming novel, The Charm Bracelet comes a new novel filled with as much warmth and charm as its predecessor. The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman is a beautifully written story of never-ending love, hope, and beautiful memories.

Mattie grew up with loving parents at a cozy beach house. As she grew older, the beach house became hers and her husband’s Don’s home. Filled with memories, Mattie is saddened in her old age to leave it behind. But she is struggling with ALS, and can no longer care for herself. Her husband is a loving and tireless caretaker, but he can’t do it alone, so they hire a woman, Rose, who has a young daughter, Jeri, to help care for Mattie. As time goes on, the older woman grows to care for Rose and her daughter. One day the young girl opens the old hope chest and suddenly the memories of Mattie’s childhood come alive. Mattie has a charming story to tell for each item in the chest, and the reader is shown her world, one item at a time.

A lovely story woven between the past and present, The Hope Chest is sure to pull at your heartstrings. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a story of family, love, and hope.
 
(I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 
About the Author:

VIOLA SHIPMAN is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered. To date, The Charm Bracelet has been translated into nine languages. He is at work on his next “heirloom novel.”

 

 
Read my review of The Charm Bracelet

 

Cheers,

Deanna

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bingeing on Alice Hoffman

Hi all,

Over the past couple of months, I have been alternating between working on my latest novel and reading. Like some people binge on a Netflix series, I have been bingeing on Alice Hoffman books. Since The Red Garden, which I read and reviewed previously, I was hooked. I can't believe I've been reading all these years without finding these magical books by this talented writer. Thank goodness I'm finally reading them!

Since I am intent on finishing writing my novel, I haven't had time to review each of these books individually. But who am I kidding - they are all 5-Star reads! So instead, I am only going to share the ones I've read so far with you in the hope that if you haven't been lucky enough to read Alice Hoffman's books, you'll try them.

Here we go...


Seventh Heaven

 
Book Description:

 
A New York Times bestseller about a 1950s suburb transformed by the arrival of a divorced mother: “part American Graffiti, part early Updike” (The New York Times).

On Hemlock Street, the houses are identical, the lawns tidy, and the families traditional. A perfect slice of suburbia, this Long Island community shows no signs of change as the 1950s draw to a close—until the fateful August morning when Nora Silk arrives.

Recently divorced, Nora mows the lawn in sling-back pumps and climbs her roof in the middle of the night to clean the gutters. She works three jobs, and when her casseroles don’t turn out, she feeds her two boys—eight-year-old Billy and his baby brother, James—Frosted Flakes for supper. She wears black stretch pants instead of Bermuda shorts, owns twenty-three shades of nail polish, and sings along to Elvis like a schoolgirl.

Though Nora is eager to fit in on Hemlock Street, her effect on the neighbors is anything but normal. The wives distrust her, the husbands desire her, and the children think she’s a witch. But through Nora’s eyes, the neighborhood appears far from perfect. Behind every neatly trimmed hedge and freshly painted shutter is a family struggling to solve its own unique mysteries. Inspired by Nora, the residents of Hemlock Street finally unlock the secrets that will transform their lives forever.

A tale of extraordinary discoveries, Seventh Heaven is an ode to a single mother’s heroic journey and a celebration of the courage it takes to change.  


 

(My note: I loved this story. On the outside, people try to pretend that their lives are perfect but you never knows what goes on in the houses on your block. Vivid characters. I think it’s one of Ms. Hoffman’s best!)

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audiobook.

 

 

Blackbird House

 
Book Description:

With “incantatory prose” that “sweeps over the reader like a dream,” (Philadelphia Inquirer), Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller The Probable Future, with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots
arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family’s lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.

These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

From the writer Time has said tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader’s heart” comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House.

 
(My note: I love when Ms. Hoffman tells multiple stories through the ages that center around one place. Loved this!)

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audiobook formats.

 

 

The Probable Future

 
Book Description:

 
Alice Hoffman’s most magical novel to date—three generations of extraordinary women are driven to unite in crisis and discover the rewards of reconciliation and love. 

Women of the Sparrow family have unusual gifts. Elinor can detect falsehood. Her daughter, Jenny, can see people’s dreams when they sleep. Granddaughter Stella has a mental window on the future—a future that she might not want to see.

In The Probable Future this vivid and intriguing cast of characters confronts a haunting past—and a very current murder—against the evocative backdrop of small-town New England. By turns chilling and enchanting, The Probable Future chronicles the Sparrows’s legacy as young Stella struggles to cope with her disturbing clairvoyance. Her potential to ruin or redeem becomes unbearable when one of her premonitions puts her father in jail, wrongly accused of homicide. Yet this ordeal also leads Stella to the grandmother she was forbidden to meet and to a historic family home full of talismans from her ancestors.

Poignant, arresting, unsettling, The Probable Future showcases the lavish literary gifts that have made Alice Hoffman one of America’s most treasured writers.


 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook Formats.

 

 

The Ice Queen

 
Book Description:

Be careful what you wish for. A woman who was touched by tragedy as a child now lives a quiet life, keeping other people at a cool distance. She even believes she wants it that way. Then one day she utters an idle wish and, while standing in her house, is struck by lightning. But instead of ending her life, this cataclysmic event sparks a strange and powerful new beginning. After the lightning strike, the chill in her spirit starts to have physical manifestations. She feels frozen from the inside out, and everything red looks as colorless as snow. Hearing of a fellow lightning-strike survivor - a man who was apparently dead for forty minutes, then simply got up and walked away - she goes in search of him. Perhaps Lazarus Jones, as he is known, can teach her to live without fear. He turns out to be her perfect opposite, a man whose breath can boil water and whose touch scorches. As an obsessive love affair begins between them, both hide their most dangerous secrets - what happened in the past that turned one to ice and the other to fire. And everyone in her fragile network of friends and family will be drawn into the conflagration of their joining. Alice Hoffman has written a magical story of passion, loss, and renewal. With a sparseness and immediacy that only a master could achieve, she illuminates the bonds and mysteries that connect mother and daughter, sister and brother, woman and man.

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook formats.

 

Practical Magic

 
Book Description:

My note: (You’ve seen the movie – so why read the book? Because the book is different than the movie, beautifully written, and gives you so much more of the story than the movie does. A must read!)

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

“Splendid...Practical Magic is one of [Hoffman's] best novels, showing on every page her gift for touching ordinary life as if with a wand, to reveal how extraordinary life really is.”—Newsweek 

 Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook formats.

 
Cheers,
Deanna

 

 

 

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